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20-08-2010
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Sex, Nudity and Fashion
I have mentioned on more than one occasion my objection to and questioning of nudity in fashion and may have even referred to myself as a prude, but what I really object to is excessive and gratuitous nudity and maybe even sexuality in fashion. Just to put the game in play, I will share some thoughts on Terry Richardson's infamous Best of the Season editorial featuring models Abbey Lee Kershaw, Eniko Mihalik, Freja Beha Erichsen and Magdalena Frackowiak in the Fall / Winter 2009 issue of Purple. To me this issue represents the good, the bad and the ugly on this topic. Below are links to the ed:

http://forums.thefashionspot.com/sho...&postcount=163
http://forums.thefashionspot.com/sho...&postcount=166
http://forums.thefashionspot.com/sho...&postcount=169
http://forums.thefashionspot.com/sho...&postcount=171
http://forums.thefashionspot.com/sho...&postcount=173

To me the models simulating sex in the McQueen outfits may be raw, raunchy, shocking and not to everyone's taste but I can get behind it being a fashion image and a powerful one at that. However, there are other images of models topless and fully nude that I question - now some might say that they are wearing shoes in the fully nude shots and that the topless shots are beauty shots, but I think that is a bit of a stretch.

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20-08-2010
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You really need to define what you mean by excessive or gratuitous nudity. When do you think it is OK to show nudity?

And you give Terry Richardson's work as an example, however his work is markedly distinct from other photographer's work which also features nude images.

Is it that you feel uncomfortable seeing breasts etc? Or in your view are sexuality and fashion basically separate, not necassarily related?

I think nudity is excessive in fashion when it dominates rather than complements the clothes. For example, if a shot shows a model in a dress - but the picture is cropped so you only see a tiny bit of the dress because the photographer focused on the breasts/body/face - then I might find it annoying.

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21-08-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sethii View Post
You really need to define what you mean by excessive or gratuitous nudity. When do you think it is OK to show nudity?

And you give Terry Richardson's work as an example, however his work is markedly distinct from other photographer's work which also features nude images.

Is it that you feel uncomfortable seeing breasts etc? Or in your view are sexuality and fashion basically separate, not necassarily related?

I think nudity is excessive in fashion when it dominates rather than complements the clothes. For example, if a shot shows a model in a dress - but the picture is cropped so you only see a tiny bit of the dress because the photographer focused on the breasts/body/face - then I might find it annoying.
I will try to respond to your questions, but it may get a bit disjointed:

When I do a mental inventory, interestingly I am probably more OK with sex than nudity because sex can be part of the story telling or the theme. So IMO sexuality is as legitimate of a theme as any other in fashion. Two examples where I think that the sexuality aspect of the storytelling overshadowed the fashion / general quality OR the sexuality aspect reflected envelop pushing for the envelop pushing are Steven Meisel's Dogging editorial and the Mert+Marcus / Lara Stone's editorial for Interview (although I guess a consideration is whether or not Interview is really a fashion magazine and if not, does that give them more latitude to explore non-fashion-oriented ideas and themes). I think in the case of the Dogging editorial (and this applies to a lot of cases like the aforementioned Best of the Season editorial in Purple) and that is that it is not necessarily the concept but that it goes on too long, the point of Dogging could have been made, been provocative and even controversial and maintained the fashion element in seven or eight pages as opposed to going on for 20 or so pages.

When it comes to excessive and gratuitous nudity I am going to have to play the "I can't define it but I know it when I see it" card and give examples. Meisel's Supermodels going to Rehab (Vogue Italia, July 2007), there are quite a few pictures of panty-less models stepping out of their cars / sitting in cars presumably in an attempt to emulate shenanigans of Hollywood bad girls - actually due to the quality of the pictures I saw, I am not sure if it is real or fake nudity. Anyhoo, one picture would have been appropriately shocking and evoked a "Oh no they di'n't" response, after that point it just comes off as undisciplined and self-indulgent to me. Also there is a picture of a topless model wearing plain leggings and a few others of that ilk that make me go "huh?" However, there is also a picture of a topless model lying in bed which I don't really like but at least she is wearing a statement skirt, so in that case I get where he's coming from so even if I don't like it I won't label it gratuitous.

As previously mentioned re the Best of the Season ed, I can get the models humping each other but then you have individual photos of the models naked, then you have the naked models back-to-front in a picture (which I actually like) and then you have a similar picture with Terry and they are wearing the same shoes in all these pictures (??!!) - to me this is just excessive and faux cool and edgy. I don't feel the need to see three pictures of partially clothed models tongue kissing / feeling each other up in general but when they are wearing the same clothes that is when it becomes cheap and gratuitous and unworthy of people who are reputedly the top photographers and editors in the industry. I just want to yell at the page / screen "can't you just pick one!" Also, I don't understand your point about me using Terry Richarson as an example, to me yeah he has a distinct style but like Meisel, von Unwerth, Mert and Marcus, Inez and Vinoodh and others he gets it right at times and other times its a misfire.

However, since we are on the topic of Richardon who I am not particularly a fan of, I do believe that the Toujours plus chair (Vogue Paris April 2010) ed with Eniko Mihalik and David Agbodji is a good example of sex, nudity (mostly implied) and provocation but still maintaining a fashion and dare I say quality element.

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21-08-2010
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i think it's pretty easy to talk about a shocking editorial in a shocking magazine shot by a shocking photographer. once we pare away the easy targets, it really gets kind of difficult to find the difference between the acceptable and the objectionable.

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21-08-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeijames View Post
i think it's pretty easy to talk about a shocking editorial in a shocking magazine shot by a shocking photographer. once we pare away the easy targets, it really gets kind of difficult to find the difference between the acceptable and the objectionable.
Even thought I did try to be specific in my previous post, I agree with you. Sometimes I don't think the issue is a single photo or editorial, rather it is the proliferation and ubiquity that some are starting to find bothersome and objectionable.

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21-08-2010
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From the responses I read, I get the impression that the only really objectionable form of nudity in fashion magazines is one where the body being photographed is over a certain 'acceptable' size. People seem happy to see all sorts of quasi-sexual scenarios enacted on the printed page by models, but insert a different sort of body into the editorial, and the most innocent of poses suddenly provokes vehement reactions about unwanted lewdness being pushed into people's faces.

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21-08-2010
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I'm not at all uncomfortable with nudity in photographic imagery per se, although when it is portrayed via the media (as a commodity, so to speak) I will generally lose interest. Imagery that is intended to shock just bores me. I guess I don't like to feel manipulated in that way. I have no issue with naked breasts, but heck I don't want them thrusting in my face every time I sit down with a magazine whilst eating a sandwich, you know .....

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24-08-2010
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I have been sick on Vogue Paris' nude shots, esp Eniko's, Daria's, and AbbeyLee's...etc.
I dont hate nudity, but I am just so tired.

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24-08-2010
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I've seen lots and lots of editorials that use nudity only to draw attention, even if the nude models don't actually add anything to the storyline of the shoot etc. I believe it has become a method of spicing up a bland shoot. As much as I love erotic photography per se, I get more and more bored everytime I see a sexed-up photoshoot.

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24-08-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by balmain1914 View Post
I have been sick on Vogue Paris' nude shots, esp Eniko's, Daria's, and AbbeyLee's...etc.
I dont hate nudity, but I am just so tired.
I wholeheartedly agree. It's gotten to the point where it does nothing to contribute to the storyline, and isn't ~edgy~. There are times when nudity can really contribute to an editorial, and there are times when it doesn't; as of late, I feel like we've been getting more and more of the latter.

In terms of what is vulgar/gratuitous and what's art, well, in the words of Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart: "I know it when I see it."

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24-08-2010
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Supermodels enter Rehab is one of my favorite story and I just took notice, after checking it again, that there is more nudity than I would have thought...

Therefore, when nudity is integrated to the story to the point that you don't even see/remeber it anymore, it leaves me thinking that it was an ingredient merging with many others, just as a part of it... Using nudity and making "disappear" into the whole set... which is not an easy task and is not gifted to anyone

I find it interesting to dissociate sexuality and nudity. Far more interesting to have a story talking about sexuality with clothes, and about fashion, let's say, without clothes, or about a perfume without a bottle...

I also tend to like nudity when it refers to freedom... not talking about sexual freedom here... Just freedom of being... Children's freedom somehow... finding back your inner child..

Quote:
In terms of what is vulgar/gratuitous and what's art, well, in the words of Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart: "I know it when I see it."
yes, that says it all...

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Last edited by mariemaud; 24-08-2010 at 05:40 PM.
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25-08-2010
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Nudity can be done tastefully, but like any other art it's subject to interpretation, which means there will ALWAYS be people who won't like it.
You can have much more sexually oriented shots with clothes than nude ones, so it really does depend on how it's done.
Nude photography tends to eb automatically categorized as pornography these days I think, so there's definitely a reputation issue here.

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31-08-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KhaoticKharma View Post
I wholeheartedly agree. It's gotten to the point where it does nothing to contribute to the storyline, and isn't ~edgy~. There are times when nudity can really contribute to an editorial, and there are times when it doesn't; as of late, I feel like we've been getting more and more of the latter.
I was at the body shop today with my car (long story) and casually picked up the only decent magazine in the place, Details. Imagine my surprise when I spotted a random exposed breast in the middle of the major editorial spread. The storyline was about a couple outdoors, but in the context of the story I saw no reason for the random breast. It was a close up of just the model's face and chest and seemed to serve no purpose except of course, to give male readers a reason to buy a subscription.

I am the LEAST prude person I know, but this just seemed like gratuitous nudity with absolutely no purpose. This was in stark contrast to the piece on Patrick Demarchelier in Industrie, where every photo was of a nude model. But it worked. What I don't like is the random senseless poorly integrated female nudity with no purpose other than to create supposed shock value, but in our oversaturated culture this now falls flat. What was edgy in the 90s is now completely tired and boring, and honestly annoying.

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31-08-2010
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I'm still trying to understand the purpose of a nude model in a fashion editorial. How does her nudity sell us on the idea of the clothing/jewelry if she isn't wearing any?

I get nudity in art and photography --just not in supposed fashion spreads.

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31-08-2010
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To me fashion is much more than just clothes, it's about everything that's aesthetically pleasing in one way or another. That's why I really don't mind nudity in fashion magazines. And it doesn't even need to be done entirely tastefully as long as it's interesting and not all too random. I don't care for bare tits randomly popping up like in Miranda Kerr's VI editorial, but it doesn't bother me either. Maybe I'm just weird, but I'm all for nudity and sex in fashion magazines as long as the models are hot and beautiful

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