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04-09-2005
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helena's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
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"That" Gucci dress by Rankin
That dress
Sixty women, one dress - the question was, would they all wear it differently? Jessica Brinton talks to photographer Rankin about his latest project
Do women wear clothes, or do clothes wear women? It’s one of the questions the photographer Rankin set out to explore in his latest project, The Dress. Over the past two years, Rankin has photographed 60 or so women — from Marianne Faithfull through Claudia Schiffer and Lucy Liu to the fashion model Jessica Miller and the LA porn actress Julie Strain — all wearing the very same foxy, semi-transparent silk-jersey Gucci frock.

“The idea was to hand them this dress, which was to be a blank canvas, and for the women to get on with doing whatever they wanted with it,” Rankin says, leaning back on a chair in his studio at the Old Street offices of Dazed & Confused, the magazine he set up 13 years ago with Jefferson Hack. It was Rankin’s then girlfriend, the stylist Miranda Robson, who chose the dress, because it made her — and him — feel “really sexy”.

Sexy is something Rankin knows all about. This isn’t his first project with a low clothes-to-flesh ratio. He has been experimenting with nude fashion photography for years (there is even a book, Nudes, featuring, among others, a fully naked Sadie Frost, as well as a series of pictures of male genitalia). These days, he is an old hand at the delicate art of making semi-naked, insecure women feel fascinating and beautiful in front of a camera. The key is that his subjects are always in charge. They even get the right to veto the picture at the end.

“It’s important that the women feel they can be ridiculous,” he says. “Sometimes you have to risk looking uncool to make an emotional connection with the camera, but for that, you have to trust the photographer, to know I won’t make you look stupid.” This easy way with the ladies explains why Rankin had — and has always had — so little trouble recruiting subjects. As Kate Moss once said: “Any time he takes a picture, he knows what he wants and who he wants, and there is really no chance of being anyone but who you are, even if you try. You can trust him. I trust him.” For The Dress, Rankin has plucked girls from all over the place — friends, models, people he met around and about and really place — friends, models, people he met around and about and really liked. He got only a few nos, one of which was from Germaine Greer, (though he says he hasn’t given up on her yet). So, what makes a good subject? “It’s like the difference between when you go to a party and you meet someone who’s really polite and reserved, or someone who cuts through the bullshit and goes, ‘Yeah, right, let’s go!’ ”

He admits that he got a kick when the subjects tried to do interesting things with the dress, even if, sometimes, it didn’t work. He loves it, he says, when girls make the effort to get dressed up and have the “wow factor”. Undressing is great, too, but he is not bothered about sexy underwear — he would rather get the girl naked. “Striptease is only a small part of the equation for me,” he says. “I prefer a great dress to great underwear.”

Porn models sometimes feature in Rankin’s work, but, he says: “With porn models, there’s a blankness, a carapace, that I find profoundly unsexual. The erotica is just gynaecological, because there’s no emotional story behind it. Fashion models don’t have that mask; they’re more real.”

Still, he’s adamant that the pictures should be enjoyed viscerally, not overintellectualised. “Fashion was getting so serious,” he says. “I wanted to do something fun and frivolous.”

And he has: luscious ladies, a killer dress, breasts, all shapes and sizes, and his trademark lighting — emphasising curves and obscuring flaws. Just what clothes should do, really.

When Rankin has shot 100 women, the images will be gathered together into a limited-edition book, each with a scrap of the actual dress inside.

Meanwhile, the project can be viewed on Rankin’s new website, www.rankin.co.uk, which launches on September 15

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04-09-2005
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very interesting photography project and exploration of personal style...
thanks for sharing helena...

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04-09-2005
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very interesting, helena! thanks for posting
don't you think it could be in photographers though?

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04-09-2005
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i saw this in 'style' !
thought it was interesting . . .

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04-09-2005
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Cool concept...

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04-09-2005
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yes maybe it should be in photographers anna .... I put it here because of it being a gucci dress and more people would see it.

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04-09-2005
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well, actually, i wish more people would visit the photographers section
maybe gucci will lead them:p

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04-09-2005
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moved to photography section

I think the dress is ugly though.....

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04-09-2005
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Estella*'s Avatar
 
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thank you

i'm not too fond of it either

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04-09-2005
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Love it! thanks.

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04-09-2005
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Some great pictures, and an interesting idea....but THATS the dress they chose???

It's so blah.....

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04-09-2005
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very interesting project, indeed.

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