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Friday, 17. January 2003
Shiraz is back in town
This humble weblog has learned that French photographer Patrick Demarchelier is a key-player in an upcoming advertising war. Call it Battle of the Undies.
US giant Hanes, the largest apparel brand in the world mostly known for its no-nonsense underwear, is going to try to lure customers that prefer the hipper, sexier Calvin Klein brand. Patrick Demarchelier, who helped build up the CK brand (remember that ad?) jumped in.
Hanes executives believe the transition period between Jessica Miller and Natalia Vodianova will confuse consumers and throw the CK brand into an identity vacuum for a while, especially in light of Natalia's giant exposure as poster girl for other brands in recent weeks.
Hanes has already secured billboards across the US for February, including the one at Times Square who caused cardiac arrest to many thx to Christy Turlington in a CK underwear.
Demarchelier was asked to find an antithesis to Natalia V., whose childish appeal could cause antagonism among women buyers. The first idea was to steal Jessica Miller right away, but the former CK girl has a "freezing clause" in her CK contract, forbiding her to model swimwear, jeans and intimates for 6 months.
Demarchelier then came up with test pics of five "older" models (i.e., in their late twenties), who aren't identified with a brand, but still conveys an image of class and elegance.
This humble weblog has learned the winner is Israeli former top-model Shiraz Tal, 28. Tal, now a TV star in her country, was Model of the Year in 1997. She is better known for her Armani ads, although she was in the s/s 2000 Louis Vuitton campaign and in Louis Feraud ads in 1999-2001.
It isn't clear if Shiraz Tal will star in print ads and catalogues as well. Hanes has never used a top model before, although its Men campaign features top sport stars, among them Michael Jordan.
Kate Winslet uproar continues
By David Lister, The Independent
I've been wondering what Stalin would have made of Kate Winslet's disappearing tum in GQ magazine. I don't for a minute mean to compare that magazine's estimable editor, Dylan Jones, to a tyrannical dictator. Jones, one of the most stylish men about town, wouldn't be seen dead in a moustache like that. Besides, his gesture last week in using digital tricks to turn an actress with an opulent figure into a skinny pin-up was the act of a gentleman. It was also the act of an astute editor, who garnered massive publicity from a technique that was fully approved by Winslet.
Stalin, of course, airbrushed people he didn't care for out of the picture altogether, hoping to airbrush them out of history. But think what the old boy could have done with the digital techniques now available. Instead of removing Trotsky from the picture, he could have kept him in but made him horrendously fat or louche or wild-eyed.
While the two examples are absurdly far apart, both have set precedents for what can be done with newspaper or magazine photographs to alter physical reality. The case of Kate Winslet is an odd one. First, she agreed to being made thin, while, in the accompanying interview, denouncing stereotyped images of thin women. Perhaps, like most of us, she can't always practise what she preaches. Mind you, the papers that enjoyed mocking her supposed hypocrisy shouldn't be too holier-than-thou. Few actresses, few techniques of digital enhancement, can match the transformations that have turned a host of bleary-eyed, overweight Fleet Street columnists into film stars in their byline pictures.
The Winslet case is also odd because she said that, although she had approved the pictures, she wouldn't actually want to look that skinny in real life. She added that most men she knew liked a woman to have an ample rear. Presumably, the readers of GQ are an eclectic bunch who have admirers of a more rounded frame among their number and would have been just as happy to see the genuine Winslet; but I bow to Jones's infinitely superior knowledge of the weight-to-height ratio that his readers desire in their cover girls.
Where, I wonder, will it all lead? Taking a few pounds well, quite a few pounds off an actress seems a harmless pastime. But what can be done for Kate Winslet can also be done for, say, a diet guru who needs to look trim in an article about a diet that a newspaper is endorsing. And where weight can come off by magic, it can also be put on: a model or a TV presenter or an ex-Spice Girl who didn't want to be thought anorexic might now be tempted to grant an interview to a celebrity magazine on the condition that it extended her waistline to put an end to those anorexia stories.
It's all pretty unimportant, you may say. The Daily Mail implied in a spread last Saturday that digitally manipulating Kate Winslet's weight is not that different from the Hollywood star Cameron Diaz having "an army of make-up artists" to cover up her spots before a photo-shoot.
Actually, it is. Making oneself look one's best for a photograph is something everyone does. No one is surprised that the star in the photo-shoot doesn't look as good when walking to the supermarket. OK, the London Evening Standard is surprised, which is why it continually publishes pictures of off-duty stars in baggy jumpers. But the rest of us are more worldly-wise.
Using technology not to bring out the best of existing features but to change those features radically and instantly in a way no surgeon could is altogether different. I suspect we will not have to wait too long before corporate brochures portray their chairmen as better physical specimens than the workforce remembers them to be. In countries with a state-owned press, digital trickery could, and almost certainly will, lead to a President looking slimmer, fitter and younger than he does off camera.
Jones and Winslet were only having a bit of fun together. But call me old-fashioned I feel safer when I know I'm looking at the real thing.
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