Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

I am about to say something that will stun my regular readers.

I am disappointed in the Crystal Renn/Tom Ford plastic surgery editorial in the Holiday Issue of Vogue Paris. (See all the images from the shoot here).

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Crystal Renn by Tom Ford (Image via The Fashion Spot)

I know, it’s hard to believe I would say anything even remotely bad about Tom Ford.  I basically worship the ground the man walks on.  When I first saw the full editorial  yesterday I  was baffled by it, but the more I studied it, the more I found that I liked it.  Yet something kept eating at me… although I don’t hate it,  I don’t love it either.  And I wanted to love it.

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Crystal Renn by Tom Ford (Image via The Fashion Spot)

Let me explain.  When WWD broke the news about Tom Ford being the guest editor for the December 2010/January 2011 issue of Vogue Paris, the article included this tantalizing line:

“…and another [feature] devoted to mature women who have resisted plastic surgery. “He very much likes beautiful wrinkles,” [editor-in-chief] Roitfeld said, flashing a smile.

As soon as I read those words, my mind was swimming with possibilities.  I flashed back to the first time I had seen Steven Meisel’s 2005 Vogue Italia editorial on plastic surgery, “Makeover Madness,” and how much I had enjoyed that commentary.   Published at a time when plastic surgery had finally become “mainstream”, the editorial glamorized the subject in a deliberately tongue-and-cheek manner.  The images, some of which can be found below, were a creative, thought-provoking, powerful commentary on the culture of plastic surgery.

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Critic (cached Google page)

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Critic (cached Google page)

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Critic (cached Google page)

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Critic (cached Google page)

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Critic (cached Google page)

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Critic (cached Google page)

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Spot

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Critic (cached Google page)

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Critic (cached Google page)

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Critic (cached Google page)

The idea of Tom Ford’s editorial, which reportedly was to focus on mature women who resisted plastic surgery, was extremely appealing to me.  The possibilities seemed endless.  Who would the women be?  How would he tackle this subject?  What would the message be?

In no point in time did it ever cross my mind that what we might get would be Crystal Renn in a hyper-stylized, hyper-sexual rendering of a “cougar” undergoing various procedure.  That being said, it’s true the images in “La Panthère Ose” are evocative.  They are eerie.  They are thought-provoking.  But compared to Meisel’s 2005 editorial, they fall flat.  This is why I am disappointed.  The potential was there for this to be a remarkable editorial.  Instead, we are expected to revel in its mediocrity when we could be reveling in something of this caliber:

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Critic (cached Google page)

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Critic (cached Google page)

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Critic (cached Google page)

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Critic (cached Google page)

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Critic (cached Google page)

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Critic (cached Google page)

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Critic (cached Google page)

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Spot

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Spot

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Spot

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Spot

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Spot

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Spot

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Spot

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Spot

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Critic (cached Google page)

tom ford photoshoot photography  Steven Meisel vs. Tom Ford: Who Does Plastic Surgery Best?

Image via The Fashion Critic (cached Google page)

What do you think of the two editorials?  Which one do you consider to be the more powerful commentary on plastic surgery?

{ 13 comments… add one }

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              • Casee Marie December 6, 2010, 4:09 PM

                Innnteresting! I’m sorry it proved a disappointment to you, though I can definitely understand why it did; I saw the Steven Meisel shoot a while back, but somehow I forgot the details of it. Seeing it a second time I’m realizing that it’s really not an easy thing to look at. Tom Ford’s wasn’t either: it had that little element that revs you up inside and sends the signal to your brain to look away (at least for me). But the Meisel shoot was far and beyond in that respect. And in a totally different context. Tom’s felt more “explicit” in the sexual nature of it, while Meisel’s draws attention to the…well, gore, for lack of a better word. The plastic surgery is definitely the focus of that one, whereas the Ford shoot doesn’t seem to have quite as clear – or maybe not as powerful – of a focus. I don’t think I can say I really “like” either of them because they just don’t seem to be the sort of things one chooses to like, you know? They’re more experiences, reactions, that sort of thing. They both moved me, but they’re not the sort of things I’ll revisit very often. If that makes any sense?

                Reply
              • Beautifully Invisible December 8, 2010, 4:20 PM

                It definitely makes sense, and you are correct in that they are definitely more of a viewing experience. They are each meant to provoke you – to get some type of reaction out of you.

                I think the things that really irks me about Tom Ford’s is that the sexual nature of the shoot overpowers any statement on plastic surgery that he is trying to make. The shoot would have been just as evocative if it had nothing to do with plastic surgery – take away anything related to that, and you still have a hyper-sexualized rendering of Crystal Renn.

                I think Meisel’s shoot was more focused, and by drawing attention to the “gore” he really illustrated the unglamorous side of plastic surgery while still allowing the glamorous elements of the shoot to shine through. He managed to do both, while the plastic surgery kind of gets lost in the Ford shoot (in my opinion).

                Again, it isn’t that I hate the Ford shoot – I just had much higher expectations!

                Reply
              • Heather Fonseca December 5, 2010, 2:54 AM

                You’re right! The newest shoot is also a little “me too”, don’t you think? Like you said, at least bring something new to the concept.

                Reply
              • Beautifully Invisible December 8, 2010, 3:58 PM

                I agree, I also get the “me too” vibe a bit. I still love the issue as a whole, but this shoot could have been so much more…

                Reply
              • Beautifully Invisible December 2, 2010, 4:23 AM

                I agree… they are both disturbing. I think what really sets them apart, however, is what you are left thinking of after you see them.

                You see meisel’s and think “plastic surgery”.

                You see Ford’s and think “wow, that was raunchy and did Crystal lose weight?” The surgery was overshadowed by everything else.

                At least, that is how they impacted me.

                Thank you for visiting! Hope you’ll stick around :)

                Reply
              • Marissa December 1, 2010, 7:46 PM

                I find both of the editorials utterly creepy, but Meisel’s is far more realistic, making it more disturbing and powerful.

                Reply
              • Beautifully Invisible December 2, 2010, 4:26 AM

                Exactly… I think the realism is what makes the impact of Meisel’s go above and beyond the Ford editorial.

                Reply
              • Erika December 1, 2010, 10:30 PM

                I agree. But I really don’t get why Crystal Renn is supposed to be a cougar. She isn’t old!! And all of those pictures are going to give me nightmares.

                Reply
              • Beautifully Invisible December 2, 2010, 4:27 AM

                That is another thing that disappointed me. Early reports made it seem like the focus of the editorial would be more mature woman, which she certainly is not. I think that would have been more interesting…

                I hope they don’t give you nightmares. I find them intriguing, which probably makes me strange! LOL

                Reply
              • A Brit Greek December 1, 2010, 11:01 AM

                Gosh, i hadn’t seen these images from Tom yet, but whilst I really don’t want to agree, I’m going to have to. It’s not a patch on Meisel’s shoot.
                x.o.x.o

                Reply
              • Beautifully Invisible December 2, 2010, 4:20 AM

                I know, right? It’s been done before, and better. Oh well – I guess Mr. Ford isn’t perfect after all. :)

                Reply
              • Grit and Glamour November 30, 2010, 7:32 PM

                I concur. Even though I don’t want to. But you are right.

                ♥ V
                http://www.gritandglamour.com
                twitter: @gritandglamour

                Reply
              • Beautifully Invisible November 30, 2010, 10:56 PM

                I know, I don’t want to feel this way either. I guess Tom Ford isn’t perfect… just close to it :)

                Reply