Natural beauty: how the fashion landscape is literally changing
Setting the scene
The landscape is a fascinating subject, especially when placed in contrast to a high fashion image. It is a confident companion that amplifies the voice of the combination and leads the viewer to a more emotive notion of fashion that's far beyond the illustrative nature of most campaigns. This idea builds a bridge between the imagined world and the tangible reality of fashion. Mixing fashion advertising with the modern landscape and our relationship with nature has the effect of blending our perception of beauty towards a more romantic notion of ourselves.
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I absolutely adore the Raf Simons S/S '14 campaign for it's half and half use of the portrait and landscape - it marked a real shift in the fashion consciousness. It was also refreshing to see the influential colour landscape photographer Joel Sternfeld sitting beside one of the fashion industry's most revered photographers, Steven Meisel, in the Coach A/W '14 campaign.
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New creative director Stuart Vevers commissioned model portraits by Meisel, which were paired with a series of landscapes by Sternfeld, featuring the then-abandoned vistas of what is now New York City's High Line Park. It seemed that the fashion consciousness was brewing. After Miuccia Prada released her Resort '15 campaign for Miu Miu, which championed the landscape next to Jamie Hawkesworth's pictures - it was clear a change had begun.
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Personally, I'm not a fan of the countless layered, cropped or doctored landscapes that abound in fashion editorial - my approach to the landscape is more driven by a purist aesthetic. I say forget these manipulations, this forcing of the landscape into the existing fashion language. Rather, wouldn't it be lovely to see brands embracing an emotive world, beyond illustrative renderings of their garments (isn't that what a lookbook is for?).
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I dare suggest that entire campaigns should be shot free of models and styling, embracing the simplicity of a single idea or feeling, thus creating an atmospheric image that will draw the viewers attention to scale, colour and form alone. It's a very modern notion that's very important for the consumer at the moment - and I think it would elicit a response that the current saturated fashion images on the high street cannot give. Perhaps this change is inevitable. As new players enter the Australian market and new ideas will need to be embraced, brands have to set themselves apart in a crowded world. A new, modern and romantic ideal to hold our attention - it's exactly what all great fashion images do.
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