Images, Photography, Postmodernism

Debates about images and postmodernism

Golden Globes (!) red carpet puts final nail in 'end of cleavage' theory

The January 8 Golden Globe awards got publicity for many things, but among its most prominent features was a glittering array of designer dresses on the red carpet. At least 50% of them also featured a  stunning display of cleavage, finally putting into touch the 'boobs are out' theories reported in our November 26 post. A few are featured here.

Left to right: Emily Ratajkowski, Kaley Cuoco, Naomi  Harris, Sofia Vergana, Pinkara Chopra, Rees Witherspoon, Jessica Biel, Blake Lively, Felicity Huffman, Gina Rodriguez, Hailee Steinfeld, Kristin Cavallari, Mandy Moore, Charissa Thompson and Jessica Chastain

Is nudity next for red carpet celebrities?

CHRISSY Teigen may as well have been completely naked at the American Music Awards, according to an article by Nadia Selemme

She claims the swimsuit model took the “nude” dress to a new level, sporting no knickers and a dramatic side-split held together with a safety pin, that went right up to her torso and left almost nothing uncovered. Like, nothing. 

Red carpet sexy: Chrissie Teigen (1-4), Bella Hadid, Ciara (5-6), Miley Cyrus, Gigi Hadid, Jaime Alexander, Jennifer Lopez, Kendell Jenner, Lisa Rina, Melanie Brown, Melody Thornton, Mikaela Scaefer, Naomi Campbell, Nicole Trunfio, Olivia Munn

“Apologies to anyone harmed mentally or physically by my hooha,” Teigen joked on Instagram.It has become almost standard for celebrities not to wear bras or knickers on the red carpet.

Adrienne Bailon reveals all

Teigen's performance comes after a crescendo of very revealing red carpet  performances over the last few years, in which celebrities compete with one another to get media attention by wearing more and more sexy dresses, which means less and less. Adrienne Evans and Sarah Rile call this 'cold intimacy', a  deliberately sexualised performance to maximise publicity and attention.

Today, far from being really shocking, it's normal and generally accepted.

Gigi Hadid also had a go at a naked dress on the same red carpet atb the AMA awards wearing a sheer lace Cavalli dress, teamed with nude underwear. But compared to Teigen’s outfit, Hadid’s was tame.

Lara Stone on her body shape the perils of the catwalk

In a Christmas (2016) interview with Net a Porter magazine Lara Stone expressed surprise at being a successful fashion model because, she says, she can’t walk in in heels and falls over all the time. Previously in an interview for Video Fashion (see below) she claimed that she fell over because her feet were so little compared with the big size of the shoes. In the interview she explains that for years her agency sent her for castings and she rarely got picked, but then she was fortunate to get a 2008 contract with Calvin Klein to do photographic modelling, and then it all started to come right. 

She adds: ““I don’t know if my body shape helps or not. I guess people are always looking for something different so maybe it makes my life easier.” Please, “don’t know” and “maybe”!! The reality is much more simple. 

The fashion industry became fascinated with her body. Images by Mario Sorrenti, Mario Testino, Inez and Vinoodh, Terry Richardson, Victor Demarchelier, Mart and Marcus, Juergen Teller, Luigi and Iango

The tide for Lara began to change in the mid ‘noughties because fashion modelling became much more about photographic modelling, and because of her body shape – and the fact that be she did dozens of shoots nude. It was the sensation about her nude body that got her the lucrative Calvin Klein ads. Lara really started to get noticed when she did a 2006 shoot with Terry Richardson for Sisley.

The shoot was smouldering but by later standards was relatively modest. A second breakthrough came in a February 2007 shoot with Mario Testino for French Vogue. This included an image of her with her knickers around her knees and a lot on show. And this – a nude vagina – in a magazine your grandmother might read having her hair done! Later that year, in the 2007 the S/S issue of Purple.france, there were sensational nude shots of Lara by Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin. This is probably some of the greatest nude photography ever done and went all over the Internet in a flash.

After that Lara did repeated shoots with Mert and Marcus, including the famous Love magazine shots in an issue which also featured other top models naked. Mainstream fashion magazines began publishing Lara nude or topless – the industry become fascinated with her body. 

Statuesque images with implants. Left to right, Daria Werbowy (1-4), Elle McPherson (5-6), Michelle Buswell (7-9). Pics 10 and 11, Michelle Buswell pre-implants.

Ealoner Morgan in The Guardian says that the fashion industry ignores big boobs – only a handful of top models have them and none of their products are suitable for larger breasted women. In fact Lara came after a trend towards top models getting implants. Top stars of the late ‘80s and ‘90s like Elle MacPherson and the evergreen Naomi Campbell had implants and then had them out. Daria Werbowy also had big boobs for a time and did some stunningly statuesque work with them in, notably the 2011 Pirelli calendar, shot by Karl Largerfeld. Look at the Victoria Secret stars, most of whom have walked as fashion models – no big boobs?! There are of course top designers who insist on self-like ultra-skinny and flat chested models, but there is now a much wider range of body types including big boobs. Part of that is the proliferation of swimwear and lingerie catwalk shows, bringing new levels of eroticism into the modelling mainstream.

Push it ad for Calvin Klein

Little feet

Fashion models, singers. celebs continue hyper-sexualised crossover in Love Advent Calendar

Sexy fashion mag Love Magazine has composed an extraordinary 'Advent Calendar' (all videos) to end 2016, highlighting the sexualisation of images in fashion, music and glamour. The division between glamour models and fashion models is disappearing in the growing acceptance of nudity and near nudity. Love Magazine features the extraordinary cast including Kendall Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, Doutzen Kroes, Irina Shayk, Heidi Klum, Stella Maxwell, Emily Ratajkowski, Abbey Clancy, Hailey Baldwin, Sofia Richie, Cara Delevingne, Alessandra Ambrosio, Adriana Lima, Lily Aldridge and Candice Swanepoel. See all the videos on Youtube (link at bottom of page), but sample a few here first. 











Despite Victoria's Secret's new modesty, fashion/glamour model interchange continues

This year’s Victoria’s Secret show in Paris was less than outrageous. Indeed a new modesty was in the air, with the most extreme outfits of some recent years not repeated. Of course it’s a lingerie show, so it’s not what someone would wear in the street. But in the past few years thongs have gone places they haven’t gone before, showing bits that would, without attention, have been covered in pubic hair. 
Left to right: Romee Strijd, Adriana Lima, Doutzen Kroes, Irina Shayk and Hilary Rhoda. Extreme right Bregje Heinen this year

That’s the new knowing eroticism in many lingerie and swimwear shows: the swell of a big cleavage, promising just unseen pneumatic wonders, today borders on being banal. More rousing is the partially revealed pubis, pointing to the shaved vagina adjacent. In this year’s Miami Swimwear Week, thigh high suits revealing a spectacular amount of pudenda were all the rage: below is Lee and Lani from July 2016 and Koco Blaq from 2015, both of which show the trend. 


  Why Victoria’s Secret have decided to tone down the eroticism is unknown. But overall the trend towards the overlap in the role of fashion model and glamour model continues apace. Victoria’s Secret is somewhere in the middle. Below, two recent fashion model recruits to online nudity, Hana Jirickova and Hilary Rhoda, show what’s happening. There are now no negative consequences for a career in the fashion world to appearing online and in magazines naked. 
New recruits to fashion model nudity

Not everyone does it of course, but it’s accepted as normal, and indeed some of the platforms for this nudity are within the fashion world itself. This trend is shown in reverse: glamour models going into the fashion world. Irina Shayk was this year recruited to the Victoria’s Secret show. VS top models Alessandra Ambrosio and Adriana Lima, have taken to walking on European fashion catwalks. Wilfredo Gerardo’s S/S 2017 New York show used spectacularly endowed glamour models to show off his risqué frocks, but of course many glamour models are way too short to make it into the fashion world. Nude glamour model Emily Ratajkowski has shown how full frontal display and spectacular assets can get you into fashion modelling and acting.


Recent celeb pics disprove 'end of cleavage' myth

Below we're publishing an article that appeared in the UK Guardian, apparently proving that the cleavage was going out of fashion. Inspired by an article in the fashion 'bible' Vogue the 'end of cleavage' claim is based on wafer thin evidence. A brief look at a few pics from this year's red carpets and runways show the opposite. Pushed up big boobs on display is still the standard move to gain paparazzi attention an d this more column inches in the press. Take a look at the gallery below before proceeding to the article.

From top left: New pic: Jourdan Dunn at the London Fashion Awards Dec 2016: Then - (1) Heidi Klum, (2-3) Emily Ratajkowski, (4-5) Bella Hadid, (6) Courtney Staunton, (7) Ashley Benson,  (8) Kendall Jenner, (9-11) Paris Hilton, (12-14) Lara Stone and Irina Shayk, (15-17) Teyana Taylor, (18) Ta'Rhonda Jones (19) Sevyn Streeter (20-23) Kim Kardashian, (24) Naomi Campbell, (25) Frankie Essex, (26) Miranda Kerr, (27) Beyonce, (28) Katy Perry, (29) Scarlett Johansson, (30) Sofia Vergara

The end of the cleavage: breasts piled together like cream buns do not make a subtle statement

Hoicked-up bosoms in push-up bras have all but vanished from fashionable circles – and the more natural ‘70s boob’ is making a comeback

Jess Cartner-Morley Guardian G2 1 November

There is something missing from fashion in 2016. It hasn’t been there in any of Alicia Vikander’s Louis Vuitton romantic, softly scoop-necked gowns, on the premiere tour of The Light Between Oceans. It wasn’t there on the best-dressed lists of the Met Gala in May, which were dominated by Beyoncé in high-necked skin-toned latex. It didn’t happen at Cannes, where Bella Hadid slayed all pretenders to her fashion throne in a red satin dress with a deep V to the waist, the smooth line from navel to waist accentuated by her swept-up hair. It was nowhere to be seen at the Oscars, where Jennifer Lawrence’s black lace Dior gown was free of obvious cantilevering.

 Bella Hadid at Cannes. Photograph: Samir Hussein/WireImage

“Whatever happened to the cleavage?” asks the new issue of Vogue. The squished-together, hoicked-up presentation of bosoms has all but vanished from fashionable circles. Scaffolding breasts under the chin and framing them with a low-cut top, which has for decades been a shorthand for allure – the four-four-two of getting dressed up for a night out, if you like – is over. The go-to after dark neckline from catwalk to high street this year is a straight horizontal line that exposes the shoulders. The must-have Gucci blouses on Net-a-Porter have elaborate pussy bows that demand to be fastened around the neck. Any self-respecting It girl of the moment knows that the photo the paparazzi want is the one in gym leggings and a crop top, exposing this year’s must-have ab-crack. Eva Herzigová, whose 1994 Wonderbra advert (“Hello Boys”) did more than any other image to put cleavage at the bullseye of sex appeal, has this year chosen for her most high-profile appearances a pie-crust collared white blouse under a trouser suit for the Vogue centenary party, and a buttoned-up denim coord at the Venice film festival. I think we can safely call that a goodbye.

Everybody’s doing it: new research crushes ‘bush is back’ myth

In 2014 Cameron Diaz published The Body Book which repeats the lame argument that women’s pubic hair somehow has an important health function. This chimed in with a series of articles in women’s magazines proclaiming ‘the bush is back’ and that the ‘Brazilian’ and ‘Hollywood’ style of partial or total hair removal was a fad that is passing. The latest is an article in the ultra-posh UK magazine The Tatler which proclaims the bush is ‘back in fashion’: the age profile of the magazine might be gleaned from an accompanying article – “What to do when your Beaver turns Grey(the obvious conclusion – shave it off – is rejected)

There was no evidence for this trend being real, despite it having been pushed for more than five years. The most extensive research was done in 2010 by Indiana University academics led by Debby Herbenick. They showed that most women up to the age of 50 opt for partial or total hair removal. Even for the 50+ age group,  total pubic hair removal  is given as 11%, and partial hair removal is 33%.

The latest report by the same team- on US university students – is utterly astonishing, revealing that total pubic hair removal is the dominant style among women students . The idea that it’s just something forced on women is outdated.

Fashion models and celebrities rock the Hollywood and Brazilian. (L to R) Cris Urena, Natasha Poly (2-3), Michelle Buswell, Lara Stone (5/6), Tuuli Shipster (7/8), Anja Rubik, Britney Spears, Catherine McNeil, Tyra Banks, Daisy Lowe, Kim Kardashian (14-15), Charlie le Mindu catwalk models (16-17), Missy Rayder, Sveta Utkina, Morgane Dubled, Loulou Robert and Zora Star.

Another fact gleaned from the statistics is that the number of students reporting no pubic hair removal is much smaller than the number who say they’re currently sexually inactive. People not having sex lately are also tidying up down there.

Here are some of the amazing statistics (figures rounded to nearest whole number) when students were asked about the last four weeks:

Usually had no pubic hair:  Women 50%, Men 19%

Sometimes removed all pubic hair, but sometimes kept some: Women 26%, Men 22%

Usually removed some pubic hair but not all of it, Men 24%, Women 15%

Trimmed pubic hair but did not remove it: Women 6%, Men 22%

Did not remove any pubic hair: Women 4%, Men 13%

Among women therefore the number who had removed all their pubic hair at least once in the last four weeks was 76%. Another 21% had removed some hair or otherwise tidied up down there, but 4% had kept an intact bush. Only a small number of all-hair Hollywood removers had done it just once: 44% had removed everything six or more times, about 28% 11 times or more

Among men 41% had removed all their pubic hair in the previous four weeks, another 45% had removed some of it or trimmed it.

Overwhelmingly the favourite method of hair removal was shaving. Only about 5% of women had waxed all or some of their hair or had used a hair removal cream.

Hollywood and Brazilian enabled swimsuit styles. Lee and Lani, Etam, Miniamle Animale and the aptly named brands Hot as Hell and Filthy Haanz.

Most people who shaved had experienced some itching or irritation, but for most this was a minor inconvenience rather than something that required medical attention.

Lingerie targets sexy as brands fight for market share

The main objective of all lingerie brands is to make women happy, through feeling more sexy and self-confident. Right? If you were for a microsecond on the verge of believing that, you are serially naïve. The main objective of these brands is to make money, lots of it. And the bigger brands are responsible to shareholders who want profits and dividends now!

The world market for lingerie is estimated to be $30 billion by 2020, and some estimate say it is already at that level.  Victoria’s Secret has at least an astonishing $6 billion of that market, with profits in the last few years at over $1 billion.

Actually since the crash in 2008, lingerie sales have held up, and even increased a little. The opening of the Chinese market has been a big factor. Most big brands are international in scope, especially mega–makes like Victoria’s Secret and Etam. And there are now hundreds of brands all trying to find a niche in the market.

Targeting sexy:  Etam Lingerie show, 10th October 2016 Paris

That's How They Got Famous!

Celebrity Stardom and the Sexualised Image - Emily Ratajkowski, Kate Upton and Miley Cyrus

Good looks have generally not been an obstacle to celebrity success for female singers, dancers or actors. But in the past it tended to go along with a minimum amount of talent. Today this is not really true. Looks are an essential ingredient – indeed the essential ingredient. In a society of sexualised images the way female celebrity works and what it’s for has changed. For many celebrities looks, and their highly sexualised display, are the whole point.

Thousands of paparazzi photos zoom round the world daily and the competition for attention is intense. Getting your photos in the papers and magazines - and especially online – is the key to continued fan attention and success. And the key to that most often is to compete in the sexiness stakes.

It is often the highroad to fame and fortune. The three examples we outline below show this – Kate Upton, Miley Cyrus and Emily Ratajkowski. Miley Cyrus is slightly different because she was mega famous as Hannah Montana before her managers launched her new sexualised persona around 2008. Her new sexualised persona launched her into the celebrity stratosphere of course.

Here’s how they used in-your-face sexiness to become famous.

Emily Ratajkowski

Treats images by Tony Duran and Steve Shaw

Emily Ratajkowski was signed by Ford models at the early age of 14, with catalogue work in mind. She also hot some small TV parts, but stuck to modelling. By the age of 20 she was mainly a lingerie model. Her real breakthrough came with the launching in 2011 of the ‘art house erotica’ magazine Treats! She did two shoots with Tony Duran and then in March 2012 a sensational shoot with Steve Shaw. The full frontal images of this, showing her style was Hollywood and not Brazil, went viral bigtime. They were shared hundreds of thousands of times. This was the real breakthrough, not the subsequent appearance in Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines video: Thicke of course had come across Emily through the Treats! pics.


Emily Ratajokowski by Steve Shaw