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Terry Richardson has done it again. The ever-controversial photographer is at the center of another maelstrom, thanks to his latest spread in Vogue Paris. Nestled amongst the pages of the magazine’s 90th Anniversary Edition lies an editorial entitled “Festin”, which simply translates to “Feast”. Yet the shoot is anything but simple.
The editorial, starring plus-sized model Crystal Renn, is striking, and will certainly leave a lasting impression on every viewer. Full of rich, opulent colors and rich, opulent foods, the images are unlike any I have seen in recent memory. When I first saw the images my response was less than pleasant. They caused a physical reaction – and it was not a pleasant one. Despite the richness of the shots, I didn’t find the images before me attractive (at all), and I couldn’t focus on any of the accessories or clothing because I was too busy gagging at the vision of Crystal Renn swallowing a squid whole.
As you can see from the image above, the shoot is decidedly phallic and gluttonous in nature – neither of which are surprising, given that Richardson is the photographer. Richardson appears to be making a statement on both lust and gluttony with the shoot.
Gluttony isn’t just about over-eating … it’s about over-indulging. It’s about taking pleasure in something that should simply be essential to survival. Many eons ago, Francis of Assisi used to sprinkle ashes[!] on his food so that he would not enjoy the act of eating. Today, the act of eating has become something different… we derive pleasure from eating, and society encourages us to over-indulge (super size me!). Similarly, gluttony is a theme that could be considered prevalent in the fashion industry. We call it by another name – conspicuous consumption.
The lustful nature of the shoot is also evident throughout. The sins of lust and gluttony go hand in hand – overindulgence (wine!) leads to lust. Right? Right? Certainly, in these images, the gluttony is leading to some lustful actions!
This may be shocking to some of you, but, in concept, I like this editorial. The problem I have with the shoot lies with the additional message it carries by having a plus-sized model be at the center of it. Whether or not it was Richardson’s intent, having Renn at the center of the spread will raise the question of plus-sized models and their place in the fashion industry. Not everyone will analyze the shoot and think about the messages it contains. Some will simply see a plus-sized model over-indulging, and find nothing attractive or compelling about it.
For me personally, I would have liked to have seen multiple models as the subject of the shoot, of all shapes and sizes. I think that would have made the message much more interesting.
What are your thoughts on the shoot?