Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.
Supermodel memories flood back when I see Avedon’s powerful Gianni Versace adverts again
14 Ноября 2014
It was the essence of the Eighties – the fashion birth of the supermodels. I was there front-row, watching the arrival of these Amazonian power women, standing tall and strong – especially Linda Evangelista with her proud head thrown back and her unstoppable, firm but fleshy legs.
And in 1992, Richard Avedon pulled all these models together for a Gianni Versace campaign. “I can remember that shoot like it was yesterday,” said Naomi Campbell. Linda teamed up with Stephanie Seymour – another figure in this orgy of gorgeousness – along with Naomi with her dark, gleaming snake of a body, the sweet-faced Christy Turlington, and the vigorous Shalom Harlow – with cute little Kate Moss was trying to catch up with her soul sisters.
As I approached the outer wall of the Gagosian Gallery stand at this year’s Paris Photo art fair, and I saw Avedon’s “supes” framed in the front line, I drew a sharp intake of breath. The reflection of the Grand Palais glass dome trellis on to the images gave even more of an “iron lady” effect.
What a hard-edged, sexually provocative frolic! Linda Evangelista crawling in a black dress over Seymour’s wide-spread legs in vividly-patterned palazzo pyjamas. Or Naomi mounting the back of a young Kristen McMenamy, both in bold, bright stripes.
In another image, all the models are in body-conscious jet-black dresses, with Kristen’s broad back turned toward the camera.
This fashion moment was the epitome of the power-woman era – a celebration of androgyny and feminist energy before grunge came in. Five years later, Gianni himself was gone.
The Gagosian had many splendid images, powerful in black and white. But these wild women in their strong colours and violent patterns caught a fashion moment that is both of its time and timeless.
Or to put that more gracefully, in Avedon’s own words: “If you do what I’ve done, which is to record the beauty of your time, that doesn’t go out of fashion.”
PARIS PHOTO is currently on at the Grand Palais in Paris from November 12 to 16, 2014, www.parisphoto.com/paris
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