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08-10-2004
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W Cover October 2004

source | ebay.es


Source | The New York Times | September 12, 2004 | by Ruth La Ferla

Quote:
The dress is a near-sheer sheath of silk as fragile as cicada wings, its material stretched improbably over a moderately hairy male chest. It appears in a series of brooding, sexually ambiguous vignettes conceived by Steven Meisel, who makes his photographic debut in W magazine on Monday, with a cover article coyly titled "ASexual Revolution."

On its surface, Mr. Meisel's exercise in gender-bending seems a calculated affront to middle-of-the-road sensibilities, one that Dennis Freedman, the creative director of W, hopes will grab the attention of the fashion world. "Next week under the tents, people will be talking about it," he said. "That may be all they're talking about."

Maybe so. In the hothouse of Fashion Week, the W cinematic photo essay, with its loose-limbed, nearly nude androgynous boys and girls engaged in obvious sexual play, is likely to make waves. But the photographs' impact, at least among fashion people, will have less to do with their content than with their context.

Until now, this kind of subversive subject matter, ostensibly exhibiting the latest styles, has been the province of small independent magazines and European glossies, particularly Italian Vogue, Mr. Meisel's primary outlet. And although W has long been the most adventurous of mainstream American fashion magazines in imagery, it has never published anything so sexually candid.

In fact, the new W photographs are part of a tradition that extends at least as far back as the 1970's, to art house films like "The Damned" and "The Night Porter" and to the demimonde evoked by Helmut Newton, whose perversely erotic photographs have been more than ever in the public eye since his death in a car crash last winter.

And Mr. Meisel's images are arguably no more provocative than those of music videos like "Toxic," in which Britney Spears couples with a stranger in an airplane toilet; or quasi-mainstream television fare like "Six Feet Under," which has trained its camera on the twilight world of gay dance clubs, where sweaty revelers gyrate and grope one another; or ad campaigns like one from Gucci, in which half-dressed models appear to be caught in flagrante by an unseen security camera.

Mr. Freedman knows that these pictures reflect imagery already common in popular culture and may not shock many of his readers. "These photos were not meant to be provocative, at least not in any obvious sense," he said. "What this really is about is the need of magazines to stop second-guessing advertisers and the public, and address the same issues that have long been addressed in music videos, on television and in cinema. For us to stay relevant, we must stay in touch with the rest of the culture."

This kind of relevance has given independent fashion magazines like Surface, Black Book and Flaunt a market niche all to themselves, said Ava Seave, a magazine analyst and the principal of the consulting firm Quantum Media. "They have been stealing ads and circulation from the mass publications, partly because they are not beholden to advertisers in the same way," Ms. Seave said. "They've made their mark by being graphically aggressive — that doesn't always mean sexy, just not predictable."

Ms. Seave added that readers and advertisers may be particularly open to controversial imagery at a time when magazines that resemble shopping catalogs, like Lucky, Cargo and the new Vitals, are flooding the market, dispensing with artistic ambitions in favor of bald displays of the goods.

The proliferation of such magazines runs the risk of boring readers, she said, adding, "A reader might well ask herself, `If it looks like a catalog, why am I paying for it?' "

And W itself has enjoyed success with photography that is more adventurous than that of its main competitors, Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. In the recent past, W has published photographs of Brad Pitt in the buff and the model Jessica Miller opening her raincoat to flash a breast. This year, the magazine's advertising pages totaled 1,635, a 98 percent increase over the year before. In September, W carried 434 advertising pages, second only to Vogue, with 647.

Just the same, publishing Mr. Meisel's overtly homoerotic portfolio is not without its hazards. "They're pushing it," said Reed Phillips, a media analyst in New York, pointing out that the issue may be banned by mass merchants like Wal-Mart and 7-Eleven. "When you rely on third party distributors, you are always running a risk," Mr. Phillips said.

Still, he said, that risk is minimal for W, which is owned by Advance Publications, the parent company of Condé Nast, the publisher of Vogue. "Condé Nast has almost as much clout with distributors as any publisher in the world," he said.

But in an increasingly conservative social and political climate, some eyebrows are likely to be raised. "Americans are suddenly priggish," said Harold Koda, the chief costume curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which this year mounted an exhibition called "Bravehearts: Men in Skirts." "We seem to have retreated to a 1950's standard of morality."

In such a context, he said, "W's photographs can be a really potent social critique."

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Last edited by MissMagAddict; 26-06-2008 at 10:00 PM. Reason: Added cover image & NY Times article
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08-10-2004
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I don't think it's a good cover image. It's nice for an editorial though...


Last edited by MissMagAddict; 26-06-2008 at 09:23 PM. Reason: dead link
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08-10-2004
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errm. i seriously don't know what to think about the guy and high heels...

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08-10-2004
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that reminds me of that guy on America's Next Top Model you know who wears the heels and teaches the girls how to walk?

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08-10-2004
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Quote:
Originally posted by moussemaker@Oct 8 2004, 06:05 AM


I don't think it's a good cover image. It's nice for an editorial though...
Agreed. And the guy looks sexy

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Last edited by MissMagAddict; 26-06-2008 at 09:22 PM. Reason: quoting image / dead link
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08-10-2004
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i absolutely ADORE the cover i dont get W mag here, but i saw it in the library and promptly made a copy of the cover to keep in smy crapbook. the editorial im a little iffy on (i wasnt keen on the blonde model used for some reason) but i think the cover is a total eye-catcher and way better than *cough*julianne moore*cough* or some other snooze-inducing celebrity

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08-10-2004
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It's not often that W strays from their standard cover-image format... I can remember the Madonna cover (snooze...) and the 30th anniversary cover with the supermodels as being two exceptions, but here there seems to be no special occasion (or 'special' celebrity). It's just a nice surprise, I guess! Really, I love it.

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08-10-2004
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08-10-2004
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Sorry, but I don't like it.... suppose I stand alone on this one.

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08-10-2004
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I don't like it either. There's just something wrong about a guy in high heels. And why is he naked?!?! If the girl has a dress on, couldn't he have clothes on also? Or better yet... let both of them be naked with just heels on... or have the girl wearing manly trousers and boots, and the guy wearing a dress and high heels. now THAT is a true asexual revolution.

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08-10-2004
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i loved it. it's seriously one of my favorite editorials of this year.

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08-10-2004
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Quote:
Originally posted by Erin@Oct 8 2004, 12:44 PM
Sorry, but I don't like it.... suppose I stand alone on this one.
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08-10-2004
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love it.

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08-10-2004
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Is it this asexual revolution that soft's been dying to bring on?

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08-10-2004
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It's bold for a W cover. I'm diggin it.

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