My friend recently returned from a trip to Spain and I asked him to pick me up a copy of Vogue España on his way through the airport. He graciously did so and even though, me hablo no Espanol, Vogue is Vogue and the spreads are always stunning no matter what language or country they are shot in. I also feel that Spanish women are underestimated when it comes to European style and I’m often inspired by the way they dress.
Ironically though, it is American actress, Sharon Stone who is the cover star and I was blown away by the 16 page feature inside. It sees the 51 year old actress “Clad in black leather, studs and [thigh-high] boots… [she] plays a dramatic role for Vogue; [the] wildest of her life”. I pour over the pictures, some of which include her brother Mike and can’t believe not only how beautiful Sharon Stone looks but also the amazing styling throughout the shoot. I was just saying to a pal of mine last week that I was getting a little tired of the Rock Chic look but after seeing, this I’m taking that back immediately. From Balmain to American Apparel the pieces and styling in this shoot are all incredible.
I have an issue though, my conflict is the old photoshopping debate. Now, I am under no illusion that Sharon Stone doesn’t look absolutely fantastic for a woman of 20 years her junior let alone 51. Her picture from the red carpet at Cannes is proof alone that she looks fantastic. My question is, is it right to promote pictures that seem to be so obviously photoshopped? I have already said here that it’s the styling as well as the subject herself that has prompted me to blog about this shoot but would I have been so enamoured had the lens interpretation been more accurately represented in print? I doubt it. But so what? As far as I can tell the images have been photoshopped, for heaven’s sake her legs look like the plastic perfection of a shop mannequin, but Sharon Stone is not a mannequin, she’s not even a model.
The argument then should be why use an actress to feature in a fashion shoot, why not just do some au natural shots and leave the fashion shoots to the models? After all models will undoubtedly make the clothes look incredible and will do the job with much less photoshopping and at a fraction of the price. The problem may be that models don’t sell as many magazines, at least not the lesser-known ones and you can’t have Erin Wasson, Kate Moss, Lily Cole or Lily Donaldson on every Vogue cover every month. So is it all about sales leaving fashion a poor second? I make a case with Alexandra Schulman’s decision to put a WAG on the cover of UK Vogue. Yes Cheryl Cole is a very pretty girl (though even she didn’t escape the photoshoppers magic wand on the cover) but surely the cover of the ‘fashion bible’ should be graced by someone who has something unique to offer? Cheryl Cole did push circulation to a record number for a February issue, 240,000 to be more specific which proved that people will and do buy into her style. Though I would almost guarantee that there is a very talented stylist standing just off camera who is mostly responsible. Not that there is anything wrong with that, see this summer’s X-Factor audition shows should any further evidence be required.
I presume then, that the magazine editors have to make the decision; whether to feature a model on every cover, maintaining fashion integrity and ethos whilst risking a drop in sales. Or else choose who they and maybe the general public see as style icons or fashion forward non-models. Women, who most likely won’t look as good in the fashion spreads as models and therefore graphic designers may have to be rely upon to enhance the shoot.
The thing is I love this shoot and that is why I am blogging about it. I don’t want to see the wrinkles, blemishes, cellulite, thread veins, sagging skin, lumps or bumps, etc. on any woman, no matter what her age is. I love how sexy Sharon Stone looks on these pages and mostly I love that she is 51 and has been asked to do this shoot. I love that she inspires me to look after myself and to want to believe that if I do I will also look this good at her age. All at the same time, knowing the real reason why she looks so fantastic. I see buying glossy magazines as a luxury that the recession has yet to take from me, thus I want to escape into the realm of fantasy with them. In the same way that I (very) happily sit and pour over each page of fashion that I will never be able to afford, I sit and pour over pictures of women with skin or figures that mine will never look like. It’s all part of the fantasy which I happily indulge in, when I go to the cinema and watch Daniel Craig’s James Bond being blown up, beaten up, poisoned and seduced I know that it’s not real but you go with it and let your eyes and emotions go with it too and no-one questions whether that is ‘right’.
If I want to see how celebrities look without photoshopping I would go out and buy Heat or Closer every week but I don’t, I never have. Of course I have flicked through the odd copy at a friend’s house or in the dentist waiting-room but it’s not for me. I want my celebrities to be just that, not ‘real women’. Not like the girls I shared a student house with, who crawled out of bed and pulled a cardi on over their PJ’s to go and buy 20 ‘fags’ from the shop. What would I buy into that for when I see it every day? I mostly don’t care what film stars or singers look or behave like in real life, I want to see how amazing they look on film and in print. That’s my opinion and maybe I don’t conform to the rest of the magazine-buying public, but I’m definitely on ‘Team Photoshop’. Knowing that these women (may) only look this great because they are have been subjected to digital manipulation is hugely reassuring and until women become genetically modified to not age after the age of 21 and therefore actually look like this at 51, will always be so.