Photographers Inez van Lamsweerde/Vinoodh Matadin, designer Veronique Leroy.
While Van Lamsweerde, who trained as an artist and shows her gallery work widely, has always shuttled between the art world and the runway, it was only four years ago that she joined forces with stylist Matadin to create the fashion spreads that have become their trademark. Using the computer-graphics toolbox, Quantel Paintbox, the pair not only "enhance" the models - elongating body parts, heightening the sheen of skin - they also create virtual backdrops that at once mimic and subvert the vision of high-adventure and exotica (artificial lakes, palm trees, and bright-red rockets) identified with '80s-style advertising. With their steroid-fueled metaglamour - mile-high legs, predatory glances, electric hairdos, and sensually made-up mouths - these hermetically sealed vignettes present a virtual (and truly inaccessible) ideal of beauty.
The sexual drive is no longer focused on the female body/object, as it is for Helmut Newton, but circulates throughout the entire image, irradiating every component. Though Van Lamsweerde and Matadin draw on Bourdin's oneiric esthetic, they take it a step further, representing the unconscious of fashion itself: its autoeroticism and fantasies of domination over the body, otherness, and femininity.
Leroy's designs effect a similar unveiling. In pointed contrast to her Belgian peers - deconstructionists Martin Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester, and Dries van Noten, who turned their backs on the glamour decade, preferring to emphasize the structure or the history of a particular garment - the Paris-trained Leroy picks up where Mugler, Claude Montana, and Azzedine Alaia left off and does them one better. Cutting her garments from fluorescent-colored synthetics like vinyl, knit, and Naugahyde, Leroy favors explosive bustlers, provocative slits, and plunging, zippered necklines, and props her Amazonian models on spike-heeled shoes decorated with gold chains. Yet where she follows Alaia (her former mentor) in her use of stretchy Lycra to highlight the curves of the body, her collection, with its evening dresses emblazoned with flame motifs typically reserved for custom-painted hot-rods (Summer '96) or the stewardess/barmaid look (Winter '95), throw the fashion image's objectification of woman into caricatured relief.
Taking this tightrope act with respect to the codes and cliches of the industry from the runway to the printed page requires the sympathetic collaboration of the photographer. In Van Lamsweerde and Matadin's high-intensity images, Leroy has discovered a take on the fashion system as vitriolic in its anticonformism as her own.
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|Date:||Feb 1, 1996|
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