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A Book: Pierre et Gilles, Double Je 1976 – 2007

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So, I love Pierre et Gilles’s photography. I’ve known their work since February of 2006 and it resonated with my own overly stylised aesthetic.

This beautiful book was a gift from my boyfriend in 2009, I think he ordered it online for me, they can be found on Amazon and a bunch of other online similar platforms.

Amazon’s apt description of the book reads:

Kings of cult and pop

Pierre et Gilles create dreamy portraits that transport their subjects–as well as the viewers–into an alternate world where camp, pop, burlesque, religion, and eroticism mingle in perfect harmony. Creating the sets themselves, and with Pierre as photographer and Gilles as painter/elaborator, they create one-of-a-kind artworks of an unmistakably original style. A host of stars has passed before their lens, such as Iggy Pop, Madonna, Marc Almond, Nina Hagen, Catherine Deneuve, Laetitia Casta, Marilyn Manson, Mireille Mathieu… though many of their portraits also feature unknowns.

 

I’ve photographed some of my favourite images from the book and added them here.

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The above is one of their classic self portraits.

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Marking the 30th anniversary of their collaboration, the Jeu de Paume in Paris is hosting a retrospective of their work from June to September, 2007.

Much more than just an exhibition catalog, this book brings together all of the 130 works included in the exhibition as well as an additional 170 pieces focusing on the past ten years. Also included is a tribute text by the artist Jeff Koons. What better way to (re)discover the work of Pierre et Gilles?

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Much of their work incorporates a fabricated border made in studio by the creative couple (image below) and its very much this kind of production which I enjoy about their work, as well as their love of kitsch and play on mythological and religious themes.

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Above image of Laetitia Casta (2000) has such beautiful Dutch painterly style lighting. And below image of slashed up burlesque diva Dita Von Teese.

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From a 2015 article on the duo in Galore:

When we create an image it’s always an adventure, we never know beforehand if it will succeed or not. It’s the public who decides, artists create their works and it is the public who turn it into a masterpiece.

Each photo shoot is done in our studio which is also our house, there is a pleasant ambiance and the models discover the universe in which we live, it allows them to truly enter into our world. We also love to discover and it is imperative that the model finds themself in the image. It’s an exchange.

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More from their interview in Galore:

We always work together and we each have a role, we complement one another. We work at home in our studio, we construct a specific decor for the model. It’s like in the theater, the subject poses amongst ornaments in lighting that Pierre had specially prepared in advance, but it is always part improvisation. Once the shoot is over, we choose the best image to make a print on which Gilles paints to make it more ideal. In the end, it’s like a picture with a specially made frame. It’s a long process that takes many weeks.

The world is like art, in constant evolution, it’s always changing. We like it and we don’t like it and that is what pleases us. It’s an eternal spectacle and we will never tire of it.

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Above image of Claudia Schiffer as Venus, 1997.

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The creation of each image must be such an undertaking. I remember how much time, effort and preparation went into my (much more simplified in comparison to Pierre & Gilles) graduate body of work which was all studio work with a very dramatised and stylised play on erotic female stereotypes. In fact not just the time but also the spend,- one of the reasons I’ve ended up which such a vast collection of women’s attire, backdrops and the likes.

Pierre & Gilles are one of my top handful of inspirational photographers.

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And I loved this little paragraph from Wikipedia…

Pierre et Gilles have sometimes attracted controversy. For example, in 2012 there was a public outcry in Austria when their work entitled Vive la France was displayed on large street posters to advertise the Nackte Männer (English: Naked Men) exhibition created by Ilse Haider at the Leopold Museum in Vienna. It depicts three naked French footballers with their genitals fully revealed: the first black, the second Arab/Muslim and the third white, to represent the multi-ethnic composition of modern French society. The ensuing controversy led to an act of self-censorship by the artists, who decided that the largest street posters should be changed, and instead use coloured ribbons to hide the players’ genitals.

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An Advert: Charles Jourdan Shoes (1980’s)

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I wish I had written a date on this ad. Maybe even a note about where I had torn it from, but no…

I’ve kept it tucked into a file for an age. Its a striking metaphor which this brand has used to advertise shoes.

Basically the beautifully lit and shot image reads something along the lines of this:
If you wear Charles Jourdan you will be irresistibly desirable (in this case, your crotch will be hot enough to melt the phallic chunk of ice in the room). Quite audacious.

I can’t imagine a single mainstream magazine publishing this campaign now.

I couldn’t find a publication date for this ad, not that it really matters, but I did find out that it was shot by a photographer who’s work I really like. Guy Bourdain plays on the objectification of women in Western culture in his images. His images have a comic element and rich color.

Here is some more of Bourdains work:

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Guy Bourdin for Charles Jourdan shoes ad campaigns 001

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A Book: Chambre Close
by Bettina Rheims & Serge Bramly

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This beautiful book was gifted to me by my partner. He knows me well.

Chambre-Close-by-Bettina-Rheims-&-Serge-Bramly--002- The inside-cover dust jacket reads and explains the contents of the book:

Bettina Rheims / Serge Bramly
Chambre Close
A Fiction
152 pages, 85 color plates

It was snowing on Paris when a well-dressed, gaunt old gentleman with pale skin entered a photography studio in the sixth arrondissement…

Monsieur X., the said gentleman, hands the manager his legacy that is to remain anonymous for all times- erotic nude photographs of women taken in hotel rooms, unequivocal evidence of the secret double life he leads behind closed doors. Monsieur X. is a perfectly discrete voyeur, an old school seducer, an amateur in the original sense. Not only does he have a good education and money, but a professional photographer’s equipment- and an obsessive curiosity for the female body.

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 The artistic collaboration of photographer Bettina Rheims and author and art critic Serge Bramly began in 1991 with Chambre Close and continues until today. Every one of their joint projects caused a stir and provoked heated debates, like I.N.R.I (1997/98). This edition of Chambre Close, in which we are publishing the complete series of photographs for the first time, is particularly interesting because of the contrast between text and pictures. Juxtaposed to the cultivated literary tone of Monsieur X.’s fictitious “avowal” are photographs which speak a much clearer language. Bettina Rheims, who produced her first photo series in color with Chambre Close, is fluent in this language, telling stories of female eroticism and female exhibitionism unlike anyone else.

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Apart from my love of strongly composed square images, the tone of Rheims’s work is kind of decadent in its color saturation and in the (effortless) tension/ harmony play in her photographs.

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She works with a mix of body language and props to weave the compositional tone of her images. In both the below and above images (if not in them all) one can really see how she works with space, form and sexuality.

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From the first pages of the book:

It could go either way. In real life our dreams turn out to be two-sided and contradictory. While one part of us aspires to tranquility, another thirsts for torment. There are two voices speaking at the same time, and the fainter one has just as much of a hold. When one has drowned out the other, and its dominance seems assured, the other is cunningly biding its time, ready to spit venom.

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 In my case, it all began with a moment of desperation, midway through my life, when I was least expecting it. I had worked so hard and well to eliminate friction in the belief that I was acting for the common good, for the benefit of my friends, my family and myself- and, insofar to the best of my ability, for the cause of social progress- and that my days would follow a perfectly smooth course to what was already looking like happiness.

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Such a belief made it easy to bear the bumps still strewn across my path, the uncertainties that occasionally snagged my comfort. I considered them ephemeral. I waited. For me, the present was like a transit lounge. Soon, a hostess would be announcing the flight that was going to whisk me to the islands of felicity, as the fulfillment of a moderate and hard-working life. I was staking the best part of my days on a winning tomorrow. Even if the future was slow in coming, the word dissatisfaction never entered my vocabulary.
But then the other voice whispered in my ear.

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The book reads like a memoir of fictitious author Monsieur X., who invites and pays women to undress for him in hotel rooms. Bettina’s accompanying images illustrate his supposed experiences and resulting photoshoots.

The models cast for the project are so varied, not just for body type but also for age and race, this makes them even more believably part of his storyline.

There are elements of her work which remind me of Helmut Newton’s approach to photographing women. I think its in the strength their models exude and the way they both obtain alluring body language and poses.

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An Advert: Sprung Fréres Fur (1980’s/1990’s)

Sprung-Freres-fur-jackets-ad-campaign-1980sFirstly I am not an advocate of fur (and therefore won’t be adding any links to this post from the brand). I kept this advert as a reference after I finished my graduate dissertation in 2005.
At the time I had been looking into erotic stereotypes, the origins and meanings of erotic symbols in art but not particularly in advertising.

Common themes are used by artists to portray sensual or sexual motives in such work, including fur and hair. Artworks I had noted at the time included ones by Helmut Newton, Meret Oppenheim and Tilman Riemenschneider (which are posted below).

The Sprung Fréres advert plays on exactly these notions to market their brand in this 1980’s/90’s campaign.
I found the ad surprising because of  its erotic quality: not just the fetishization of their product as a marketing tool but also the intensity of the couples embrace,- her clenched fist and thrust back head all imply an intense sexual tryst beneath the sheath of her shared coat.

There are strong elements of power-play and domination apparent in the image and considering it was shot at a time when women were becoming more powerful in the work place (and better earners) I’m pretty sure the campaign made it to home base.

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Fur-and-hair-art-references

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A Magazine: SCOPE, February 2nd, 1979

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I bought this 1979, February issue of Scope in Peter’s Antiques in Swakopmund, Namibia a few years back. They’re not so easy to come by since they stopped publishing in 1996.
Scope is another one of those very mannish historical items of past times that I’m drawn to. It feels like we unpack our current behaviour when looking at these items of times-gone-by except that I feel there are still strong influences at play which we overlook.

They had a sturdy reputation as South Africa’s top selling English magazine but funnily are better remembered as a “titty mag” even though, from a browse through this issue I notice how well put together the content is.
The selection of images represented here are only those which include something to do with the softer-sex, such as the “playmate” and the centre-fold.

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There are no nipples and no stars in this 1979 issue, but a surprisingly well populated contents page including categories typical to mens mags: sports, crime, travel, politics, army, cars, sex, etc.

My reference point for the brand had always been more sleazy but this is well researched and well written. I have no doubt it would rival any current issue of GQ for content. Overall it’s pure masculinity for its time and the images in the sexy category are kind of saucy-but-sweet. Advertising content consists of text rich, full page ads for Pall Mall, Lion Lager, Pipers Scotch, Benson & Hedges, Blitz Firelighters, Campari and so on. There are women’s weight loss campaigns, surprisingly, and ads inviting firmer, beautified bust-lines for ladies like the one below.

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Scope was a weekly mens mag and became controversial for its content which challenges SA’s strict censorship laws during the apartheid era,- even swimsuit-wearing girls were a bit of a no-go for local print at the time. The “titty” elements are actually very tame, stars or not, but then thats me speaking all the way from 2015.
The models all evoke a kind of sweet, enticing and flirtatious tone. Their bodies remain un”photoshopped”, slender but shapely and individual. The styling of their swimwear invokes a tactual inflection.

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My perception of the magazine is much converted after taking the time to page through its contents and do some online research into its editorials. The images included here are the ones which drew me  as being the most relevant to its remembered reputation which I now feel is distorted.

The below article appeared in a 1989 issue of Scope magazine, I came across it while doing online research into the publications content. It makes me think that Scope offered South African men, many of which were dealing with social issues at the time, a good and balanced masculine platform for communication. This makes the editorials on women almost seem therapeutic.

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Lastly, one offbeat and bizarre advert did catch my eye, the Male Chauvinist Pig Tie, yup.

The MCP tie “an international best seller, is now available in South Africa” at R5,99.

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I’m not sure what to think of this.
More on this peek-a-boo tie found online below.

Male Chauvinist Pig Tie by Grenville

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An Advert: Deluxe Coffeeworks, Cape Town

I tore this one page advert out of a South African Vice magazine that was published a good 8 or so years ago.

I have contradicting feelings about it which is why I stored it.

On the one hand I think its successful. It’s playing to exactly the same marketing concept that American Apparel have used “provocative and interesting“, it’s crass and fitting to Vice magazines readership who are comfortable with nudity and controversial statement making.

On the other hand its chauvinistic and sexist, uses a cheap ‘n nasty advertising style and of course is pretty contentious with its statement reading “With…Or Without Milk?”. I just don’t like the parallel between bodily fluids and my morning coffee at all.

All feedback I got from friends and colleagues was that it was stupid but that the women pictured has very nice boobs.
I quote one friend who echoed the majority when she said:

I dont understand it. There’s no clever reason to feature boobs there. Feels gratuitous and dof.

Deluxe Coffee Works Cape Town Advert in Vice Magazine

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An Article: Capture Me If You Can
On Photographer Bob Richardson

Top left caption reads: "Richardson destroyed most of his work and documented very little - the stories behind many of his images, such as this bathroom scene, remain unknown. Far right: self-portrait, 1960s"

Top left caption reads: “Richardson destroyed most of his work and documented very little – the stories behind many of his images, such as this bathroom scene, remain unknown. Far right: self-portrait, 1960s”

Bob Richardson

An article I found interesting with strong images by and about Bob Richardson, written by Kathy Brewis for some magazine quite a while back (based on the content I’d estimate 2007)- I have no idea where I tore this from, it’s too long ago. The article added insight into Terry Richardson’s work too, Bob’s son.

The parts which interested me below:

He was a true original, a high flying fashion photographer who lived by his own rules. Then Bob Richardson slipped off the radar, losing everything in the fog of mental illness. Now Terry Richardson is publishing his father’s work for the first time.

Before he fell off the map, Bob Richardson’s life looked like one great hedonistic picnic. It was the 1960s- when else? – and Richardson was a hotshot on the New York photography scene, an iconoclast more interested in documenting the age than making clothes look pretty. In his vision, love comes cheap but never easy. The beautiful people are unhappy.

“His photographs are timeless,” says his son, Terry. They’re haunting, so dark and soulful and human. They stay with you. So much fashion photography is surface and gloss- it’s rare that an image is deep and pulls you in.”

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Terry’s images on the other hand are the opposite to his fathers work yet in some ways he touches on many of the same elements in his own way. Terry’s photographs are brash, explicit, memorable for their trashy-ness, not deep but rather purposefully meaningless, the hedonistic and self-obsessed side of humanity.

Bob died in 2005; Terry, a successful photographer himself, has put together a book of his father’s work that includes a poignant, uncensored memoir. Bob didn’t archive his negatives like many of his peers – he threw them away. “He was only ever interested in what he’d just done.” The book was pieced together by re-photographing the images from the original publications in which they’d appeared.
Bob set out to “put a reality” in his photographs. “Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll- that’s what was happening. And I was going to help make it happen.” He caught the moment perfectly, in both pictures and words.
“Mid- ’60s- Acapulco. Big Scandal- Lana Turner and Johnny Stompanato having marathon sex at full volume in their bungalow at Teddy Stauffer’s hotel- beautiful bar in the centre of the pool- drinking margaritas in waist-deep water- weed called “Acapulco Gold” everywhere- borrowed underwater Nikon from Jacques Cousteau- photographed clothes on model underwater- all clothes destroyed.”

“Early ’60s. Jill Kennigton- English model- sensational beauty- love at first sight- we worked in New York- London- Paris- Venice- she came to my studio with her boyfriend of the moment- he threatened me with a gun and fired two shots into the ceiling. Never saw him again…” Heady Times. But there was another side to the coin, a toxic combination of drugs, alcohol and mental illness.
“I have always photographed loneliness because that is my life,” he wrote. “People say my work is sexual. Look closer, stupid.”

…Terry says: “There are so many constraints in fashion, he was worn out by it.”

These constraints Terry comments about above are a real and destructive force in the creativity of idea/image making as so much of what is produced in the fashion/beauty realm is governed by a wearying tight-rope teeter  between sexuality & its taboos Vs. mainstream perceived conservatism and “norms” Sex sells but in a controlled or contrived way which is what makes Bobb and Terry’s work controversial in their own separate ways.

His father taught him not to care what others think.

Thats for sure. (I won’t add any of Terry’s explicit work, I find it obnoxious).

“The most important thing is to create things that you love. Acclaim is great but when you look in the mirror, what matters is that you’re happy with yourself. I know Dad felt that.”

Bob: ” How have I been able to survive for 75 years- guts- willpower- pride- I am very proud of myself- I am not ashamed of anything- I have no secrets- I am free. What about you?”

Below are a few of Terry’s pics. His work (and that of Jürgen Teller) made its’ way into mainstream media at the same time and became recognised for its bold lack-of-technical-anythingness yet is intriguing for the way he handles the subject and the message construed about popular culture.

Terry Richardson

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An Advert: Passionfruit.co.za
NuMetro Cinema Ad for the launch of
50 Shades of Grey in South Africa

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In October 2014 I worked on an advert for www.passionfruit.co.za as director of photography.
The online sex-toy retailer had cleverly decided to advertise during the launch and screening of the much anticipated cinema block-buster “50 Shades of Grey” (launching Friday 13th February, 2015, TODAY!).

We had 20 seconds of advertising space, the ad would be the last one screened before the movie showed across the country, a creative and fun project to be involved with.

Some behind the scenes moments captured during the making of www.passionfruit.co.za's NuMetro cinema advert last year.

Some behind the scenes moments captured during the making of www.passionfruit.co.za’s NuMetro cinema advert last year at Banksia Boutique Hotel.

Ross Campbell did a fab job of shooting all the video footage and managed the editing and sound while I co-ordinated location, styling, models, props, concept and dialogue, etc. We shot over one day at the beautiful Banksia Boutique Hotel in Rosebank, Mowbray with our male figure Daryn (not pictured here) and model Yolande Malherbe who I worked with at Playboy a few years previously.

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The concept was simple, fun and clear: www.passionfruit.co.za is the place you’re going to find your inner 50-Shades as they don’t just stock the original range, designed with the author of the book, but also another 1000+ similar goodies to spice up your bedroom life-style in which ever way you choose.

The ad played loosley on the characters in the movies’ storyline as well as having a touch of a BDSM feel in a very low-key way.

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I enjoyed the editing process which I’m not so familiar with since I only work with stills. The added elements of timing, movement and sound etc are so powerfully interpreted by a viewer…

I shot a few stills after the shoot for www.passionfruit.co.za to use as banner ads on their webpage or social media platforms if needed, and one or two pretty lingerie-ish ones just for Yolandi and myself.

Its the first time the negligee she’s wearing has ever been used from my lingerie collection….and its been in there for a good 10 years.

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I mailed Yolandi these few pics a day ago and asked her what her thoughts were about the shoot we did together:

What did you think of the concept for the advert which was loosely based  on the characters of the 50 Shades movie?

I thought it was a clever. I mean, selling sex toys is never subtle or discreet, but the way this ad was done, was brilliant! When I heard who all would be a part of the production team, I was totally at ease and knew it would be done super professionally.

Your thoughts on lip-biting “know-how” now that yours will be cinema screen size?

It’s all in the name of pulling off a great job. I had my shy moments on set and I blushed when I saw the final results, but everyone knows I’m not conservative and very open minded. People will probably be like “Of course Yolandi is in this ad. Wasn’t she a sex columnist at one point?”

How do you think the movie 50 Shades of Grey will be received in SA….do you think passionfruit is going to run out of stock? 😉

I dont think SA is as conservative as before, so there will definitely be no protesters outside! Haha! People loved the book and now there’s a movie – recipe for success. And I most definitely think people are going to save the website link when they see the ad, just before they have to switch their phones off. And then when they get home….add to cart.

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I reckon 50 Shades has done quite a bit for South African conservatism in the bedroom…which means passionfruit have probably hit the nail on the head with their ad space. This quote from the passionfruit press release:

Jörg Masche, Co-Founder of Passionfruit.co.za, believes that the global phenomenon of the 50 Shades trilogy has lifted taboos and shifted stigmas, allowing people to expand their sexual consciousness and unwrap their sexuality without fear of judgement.“Activities such as role-play and BDSM (Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission) have become acceptable thanks to 50 Shades,” adds Masche. “Kinky is in and, as a result, many couples who were playing around with the ideas of role play or something a bit saucier, can now experiment and have fun without any negativity attached to their sexual preferences.”

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I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of press comes of the 50 Shades movie in SA media as well as hearing about how this advert effects www.passionfruit.co’s stock levels…

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An Article: Shrouded History
Vice Magazine South Africa

Vice used to be published and circulated for free in South Africa many years ago. I considered it a pretty trashy, over-purposely grungy and obnoxious magazine.

Now that I have a soft spot for Vice photographer Richard Kern my understanding and appreciation for the magazine and the culture it cultivates has changed.
I used to pick up Vice, page through it and put it back down; this article, and its images, caught my eye and I’ve kept them in some file for the last 8 or 9 years.

Written in true Vice style and with an excessive vocabulary which ironically mirrors the age-old history of the topic it discusses via satyr, it’s a very nice compilation of information of the veil which truly does have a crooked history.

Lets take a look behind the veil…
Sometimes around the days when it was fine to throw slaughtered pigs into the crick behind the factory, the bridal veil outsourced its power to the wedding dress. The latter gets all the credit these days for a lady in white’s blushing beauty, but really, that’s bullshit. The veil contains the secret lore of marriage rites, its origins so arcane even the smartest historians of head lace do not see eye to eye on its inception.
Is the veil a quick derivation of the canopy under which a middle eastern bride and groom of yore set their forevermores, hand held somewhat apocalyptically by four members of the wedding party? Or was it perhaps invented for the crusaders, who upon returning from slaying vile heathens were presented with maidens, face-swathed to hide their probable homeliness.
Regardless, the veil begat lots of rituals referring to death rites and shrouds, the womanly triumvirate of blood (of period, of deflowering, of child birth, as demonstrated with the colour red), hiding sadness and other seemingly behaviors or appearances and preventing a women, a natural conduit for evil, from possession.
Lets lift some mystery from this gossamer delusion with the following compendium of veil-trivia bits and bobs.

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 A bridal veil is more like a gimp hood among the Berber folk in Morocco. The bride is dressed from neck up like a fancy execution victim, donning an attractive square red sack into which a long thin cushion is stuffed, along with her head. Called a “aãbroq”, the pillow case mask get up goes down to her chest, and just to make extra sure she won’t be showing any skin from the collar bone up, she is sewn into it. It is not to be removed through out the three-day ceremony, to protect her otherwise easy entered face orifices from crabby anthropomorphic spirits who are known to posses or even kill a bride if they wake up on the wrong side of the bed. It only comes off (maybe) when the couple goes home to do you-know-what.

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Veil popularity vanished for several centuries after the time of the Roman hair dart. Early Anglo-Saxon brides preferred the Ren-faire look, with garlands of flowers crowning their free-flowing locks. Early Christians held a square net, called a care-cloth (a pale rip-off of the Jewish Chuppah), over the bride and groom while the service was performed. During Renaissance and Elizebethian times, lots  of ladies married in glorified bathing caps trimmed with all sorts of flouncy girlie stuff.  

In the Slavic areas of Europe in the 1500’s brides were given extra head gear on their special day to distinguish their new status, since daily veils for women were customary. This “capping ceremony” was a puberty initiation ritual during which an older married woman removed the brides headdress and chopped her hair off while she and her fair maids sang maudlin dirges for her tresses (metaphoric for impending loss of cherry, of course). It was generally assumed the sadness was a sham and the Slav teens were anxious to get laid.

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In Random, Poland, it was customary for the bride to run away screaming when it was time for the shearing and to be forcibly returned to a sheep skin covered box, where she finally became a matron. For Polish brides, this was only the beginning for the ritualistic embarrassment. After a wedding ceremony, bridesmaids would put on red veils and blind fold the bride with her white one, rub honey on her mouth and throw wheat at her while the groom escorted her to their home. (Greeks also enjoyed red veils, as it was the colour associated with Hymen- which is not only that sexy membrane, but also their God of marriage).

Veils continued their shame spiral and weren’t worn at all for white weddings of the 18th century. Western brides instead opted for hats, bonnets, wreaths, tiaras, jewels, lace and ribbons. But then, one magical day, technological advances in clothing manufacture made veils feasible again. Tulle, once reserved for the lace machine of 1768, became handy and cheap thanks to new fangled machinery. And then came Queen Victoria who was  the first modern monarch to wear a veil. After her, no self-respecting lass would be seen without one.

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In the Christian church of Abyssinia, a happy couple are locked away for their marriage, during which the new wife has to wear a black veil over her face the entire time.  The 19th century saw the invention of another fun Christian veil game in Lorraine, France. The bride and her three pals were covered with a large white cloth, the peaks of their head gear adjusted to the same height. Using a twig, the groom had to prod the body he thought was his future sweetie. If he selected the wrong girl his punishment was to dance with her all evening, not with his bride.

The record for longest veil worn down the aisle was, for more than a decade, a 25-footer that was propped on the head of Princess Dianna. But in 2004 monstrous demon Star Jones decided she’s top the record with a crystal-encrusted 27-footer. Maybe one day she’ll further follow Diannas example and get decapitated in a car wreck.

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Found Images:
Women Before 10am by Veronique Vial

RePhotographed images Women Before 10am by Veronique Vial 1

I think I came across these images while I was doing research in the Michaelis/UCT library during my graduate year in 2005. I photocopied them and stuck them into my visual diary of the time, here they appear re-photographed from my diary as well as a few more lower down which I grabbed from google image search.

RePhotographed images Women Before 10am by Veronique Vial 2

RePhotographed images Women Before 10am by Veronique Vial 3

I can’t exactly put my finger on what it is about them which draws me so much,- maybe its the graininess of both the film and those first moments of the day? I wonder also how she approached her subjects- did she ask them to stay as they were when they had awoken? Did she style them or ask her subjects to just be naturally reactive to the concept and moment?

Sarah Jane Wylde by Veronique Vial

Editorial reviews I found and liked about the book:

“Imagine being let into the bedrooms and bathrooms of 96 of the world’s most beautiful actresses and models to photograph them while they’re still sleepily themselves, without makeup, defenses or clothes. These heavenly creatures loll in expensive sheets, smoke, drink coffee, play with their dogs and children and let it all hang out.” – Paper

“Intimate, messy, revealing – photos of fabulous females in their precaffeinated state.” – Elle

I love the description “females in their pre-caffeinated state”!

There is a strange parallel I find between the intimacy of the captured scenes and  the element of the staged (who wants to look unattractive in a portrait sitting after all? Did they adjust their hair? The light? The room? Makeup?)

Women Before 10am by Veronique Vial

I previously knew nothing about French-born-living -in-America photographer Veronique Vial and went to her website to find out a bit more about her work.
I was a little disappointed sadly- I had expected her work to be a bit more content rich, more conceptual, but her work has much more of a lifestyle/stock photography feel for me.The book and the theme and the style in which she shot it was much more atmospheric, and I also loved the incorporation of her own handwriting. The images I kept all those years ago are still inspiring, so much so that along with my Polaroid project I’m considering shooting a new series in B&W film on my old cameras.

Women Before 10am by Veronique Vial
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