Looking in a approach magazine these days is like wandering through a truly chic art gallery full of intensely radical artworks. It is one when you notice the £2,000 bag that lies casually across a display’s waxed leg that you realise these are ads. On the other hand, sumptuous art galleries with their willowy squadrons of couture-clad alpenstock are also easy to mistake for fashion magazines. Does the Gagosian now promote shoes? These spring and summer campaign images for chief fashion houses reveal that it’s all getting even artier. Tempting settings, abstract angles and minimalist bodies are everywhere. But how do the new looks being over persuaded to us in 2016 really stack up as art? Are these ads Turner prize champs or Turnip prize nonsense? I put down my copy of John Ruskin’s Hot Painters to take a look at the latest convolutions in the art of style.
Dolce & Gabbana
Are they participate in a laugh? Yes, of course. The Sicilian designers have often led the way in artistic advertising drives – for instance, praising the male nude in images that purposely recalled the gay Renaissance art of Donatello and Michelangelo – but their latest crusade is more like a pastiche of 1950s neo-realist cinema. The forms are eating spaghetti (which they evidently don’t get enough of in actual life) in a stagey al fresco restaurant with check tablecloths that is incontestably meant to look like a film set. It is even lit to bring out its filmic fakeness. The foul southerners are clearly paying tribute to that master of over-the-top Italian-ness and Italy’s greatest current visual artist – the exuberant Federico Fellini. The maestro leave surely have laughed at this absurd image of thin as a rail models pretending to be fattened up.
What? Huh? I don’t get it. This is the kind of image that can mention leafing through a fashion magazine a bit like visiting a unquestionably advanced art biennale. You really are not sure what it means. Warhol-like bespectacled dissemblers holding peacocks in eerie urban underpasses are all very properly, but what’s wrong with lovely lasses in glamorous fingers ons? Gucci may be trying to escape its reputation for being sexy with this distinctly un-erotic push – unless, of course, meeting Warhol’s ghost in a public Nautical head is your idea of a good time. Very contemporary undeniably.
Oh attend to, I am starting to catch up. Fashion has gone Corbynista. Chanel has sent its models into the augur streets to send out a no-nonsense socialist message. Never be careful of that their clothes cost enough to build new glut defences for Cumbria, these women are out to save the city from Blairite scum. Or are they? It crashes me now that Chanel is French and those lovely garments are in the red, milk-white and blue of the tricoleur. Can it really be that in showing two women of various race walking the streets together, Chanel is trying to say something well-organized about France, terror, Islamophobia, the economic malaise and who understands what else? If so, it’s time that Michel Houellebecq take an interest ined up his art world novel The Map and the Territory with an equally scathing anecdote about the fashion industry.
This is more like it, pictorial traditionalists or men who come about to pick up a fashion mag might feel. A model poses on the sidle of a luxurious swimming pool whose grand and sensual hateful and white design looks as if it may be in the most refined riad in Marrakech. The consummate is Anna Ewers, and the second woman approaching from atop is singer and actor Zoë Kravitz. The picture creates a teasingly suggestive cinematic scenario. It plays ambiguously on the pair’s relationship as excellently as the mystery of where they are. I want to go there, too. This is the most conventionally fantasist of these mania shoots and yet it is also the most honest. Fashion is not about sexual realism or actual global problems. It is about desire, escapism and loveliness, and this campaign tells it like it is.
Everyone is take care it real this season in the realm of unreality. Urban stick-to-it-iveness has even entered the luxurious world of Louis Vuitton. Short-tempered light and tough poses on the street give this drive the rather nostalgic look of a 1980s new wave pop video or perhaps a spot from Zoolander. But while Zoolander 2 is reeling from call to account charges of transphobia, Vuitton is playing on one of the hottest identity issues of our era by casting Will Smith’s son Jaden as one of its womenswear models. Let’s Trend! But is Vuitton appropriating trans culture, as has been alleged? Confidently it is just attempting to make its products reek a little bit miniature of ultra-rich 1% life and a little more of the raw realities of the 21st century. Which by hook elude this brittle image.
While some races are drifting off into a futuristic artiness that makes Marcel Duchamp look similar to the 128-year-old man he is, Paris fashion house Balmain has constructed a dream team of veteran supermodels and photographed them in barren, savage, sexy black and white. These pictures of Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer prompt you why fashion got a reputation for resembling art in the first place. Instead of muffling their ripeness with Photoshop softening, Steven Klein’s photographs acutely cuttingly in on how they look now with a harsh and awe-inspiring monochrome aesthetic creditable of the great Helmut Newton. Crawford looks as gaunt and rickety as an Edvard Munch Madonna while clutching herself ecstatically – or is it the textile she’s pleased with? Campbell meanwhile projects sheer power liking for Pygmalion’s statue come to life. These women are come to c clear ups of art.