Last week, a newspiece about H&M using models with computer-generated bodies made the rounds on the good ol’ World Wide Web. In case you missed it, the Swedish retail giant admitted that models used for the virtual try-on feature on their site are digitally fabricated and completed with the heads of real models in post-production. To their credit, H&M were quite open about the matter when contacted by news outlets. Read more » >>
Tag archives for Vogue
Since I’ve been writing about fashion since before Acne was born I know it has not always been the company that the world abroad knows. Not that there’s anything strange with that, it’s quite possibly one of the strengths of Acne that they have been able to change so drastically. Even if they don’t and won’t change as much as they have in the past, this openness is evident in for example the collaboration with Candy Magazine (they did a transgender collection together).
But disregarding the fact that Acne makes actual clothes that people seem to love it is difficult to understate the importance of Acne Paper. I remember when the first issue came out and it felt very nice, Seventies in its feel it made me think of photographers like Francesco Scavullo.
It was with the magazine that Acne became the Acne of today. The magazine gave the brand a story it had lacked – it created a world for the brand. It also captured the imagination of the fashion world. Sofia Coppola might’ve namechecked her Acne jeans in French Vogue in December 2004, but in autumn 2005 Acne Paper was born and really made people look twice at that Swedish jeans company.
That first issue did come across more like a publicity vehicle for the brand than it does today since the fashion stories were all shot with Acne clothes. But already in the second issue, it became a proper magazine, and since then it has gone from being a PR stunt to an important voice in the fashion media.
It is a very rare bird in the fashion world, even if other brands have done magazines, mainly because of the strong vision of the editor-in-chief, Thomas Persson.
The next issue is out the second week of July, but in the meantime here are some of my favourite covers (at least for the moment).
The cover is a reference to a photo of the legendary eccentric Quentin Crisp, shot by Joseph Mulligan.
I loved this mix of East London club kid and something much more savage.
This shot of model Guinevere van Seenus is more painting than fashion shot and shows how daring Acne Paper really is.
I first came in contact with Andreas Larsson when I, together with some friends, made an independent, arty fashion publication. This was in the early 2000s and Andreas shot a men’s story for us. During that time he was very influenced by the prevailing documentary fashion photo inspired by art photography that became big in the 1990s.
Some time after that I recall him telling me that he had decided to start working with real models, mirroring the fashion world’s move towards more obvious beauty, which was a main story during the 00s.
Since then Andreas has moved up in the world, these days shooting advertising for Lanvin menswear and working regularly with Dazed & Confused, Fantastic Man, 10 Magazine, Bon Magazine. Just to name a few.
I asked him to send me a photo that he liked at the moment and he sent me this shot from Candy Magazine, a fashion magazine for transvestites, drag queens and transsexuals.
Andreas’ story is not uncommon for Swedish photographers working in fashion. Come to think of it there are many great ones from Sweden. The most successful one is of course Mikael Jansson who is one of a few elite photographers working at the absolute top level – regularly shooting campaigns for Calvin Klein and the top Vogues.
There are others. John Scarisbrick shot for legendary fashion and pop culture bible The Face in the 90s while Polish-Swedish Kacper Kasprzyk has landed both prestigious campaigns such as Yves Saint Laurent menswear and lucrative ones – this spring he’s shot the Gucci eyewear campaign. Needless to say, he also works for high-profile publications (Harper’s Bazaar, Another Magazine, Vogue Japan).
And that’s just the guys. Martina Hoogland Ivanow is as much an art photographer as a fashion photographer, if not more so. But with a Prada campaign on her CV you can’t escape naming her as one of Sweden’s top names. Camilla Åkrans is soon rivalling Mikael Jansson in stature with her work for Numéro and campaigns for Missoni and Sisley. Lina Scheynius’ soft and intimate style has been making waves for a few years now, while Louise Enhörning is another female photographer whose forte is to capture the beauty of teenage girls in a respectful way (a talent that landed her jobs for Teen Vogue).
When you start looking at fashion photography from Sweden, I think it’s difficult to say that there is a certain style. In this I think it says a lot about the restrictions on Swedish fashion when people have to sell clothes to the Swedish public. When creative fashion people from Sweden can do as they like and they have a global audience, the style they develop might sometimes be minimalist, but many times it is as much a break with this aesthetic as anything else.
Fashion used to be illustrated, capturing the allure of clothes with lines and colour. Then photography came along and after a rocky start, it became the preferred art form of the style universe.
More than ten years ago, when I started out as a fashion journalist, it was often difficult to get good samples from any well-known brands. Stylists often had to emulate the looks off the catwalk, using vintage clothes or imaginative styling.
In that period, it was sometimes easier to use fashion illustration to convey the key pieces of the season since you could choose exactly which look you wanted. Maybe this is why Sweden has been quite successful in the fashion illustration department?
Sweden’s most famous fashion illustrator is called Mats Gustafson. During the Eighties he worked with everyone and dazzled art directors with his sophisticated style.
But since then there have been many others.
Lovisa Burfitt lives in Paris and also works as a fashion designer. She is perhaps the most obvious heir to Mats Gustafson aesthetically with her watercolour-based drawings. But it is an updated aesthetic, reflecting her interest in punk and street fashion. She has worked with Vogue and just made a line of porcelain for Rörstrand, featuring her illustrations.
Living in Milan, Liselotte Watkins works regularly for D, the fashion supplement for Italian newspaper La Repubblica. Her biggest triumph was when Miu Miu chose her illustrations for their Spring/Summer 2008 fashion show, featuring them as patterns on ten different dresses.
Another successful Swedish illustrator is Kristian Russell, currently based in New York. The illustrations could be described as a modern take on psychedelic and has landed him jobs for a variety of Vogues as well as brands such as Nike and Diesel.
From these examples it is easy to see that Swedish fashion illustration isn’t very minimalist at all. Rather it is bursting with colour and pattern clashes, an interesting aside to my previous post about the lack of colour in Swedish fashion.
Swedish girls have a reputation for being beautiful. Their look is supposedly one of natural and clean beauty, fresh and light, rather than dark and brooding.
In fashion Swedish girls are obviously in demand, being both blonde and caucasian (the fashion industry prefers their women blonde, but hopefully things are becoming more diverse), with model agencies such as Mikas and Stockholmsgruppen scouting many successful models year after year.
The world’s first supermodel, Lisa Fonssagrives, was born Lisa Birgitta Bernstone and raised in Uddevalla, Sweden, and yes, she was a blonde. But the natural and clean look wasn’t that in in the Forties, instead she cultivated a sophisticated and distinguished glamour, perfectly suited for the times.
Fastforward to the early Nineties when Emma Wiklund (then Sjöberg) made campaigns for Versace and appeared in music videos such as George Michaels Too Funky. A bit later Mini Andén and Caroline Winberg managed to rack up in impressive roster of clients and publications.
But what about now? At the moment the top 50 models in the world according to Models.com only welcomes one Swede (unless you count Sigrid Ågren, whose father is Swedish). To my surprise I must say, since I in addition to Frida Gustavsson (at number 35) expected to find Sara Blomqvist there, but she must have fallen off the list.
Frida Gustavsson is one of the best runway models I’ve seen in a while, she has such a great walk on the catwalk. She is incredibly tall, almost too tall for a model (yes, there is such a thing), but she’s done Vogue in the US, the UK, France, Italy and Germany and advertising campaigns for Marc Jacobs, Paul & Joe, Etro among others. Let’s just say Frida’s quite successful. She’s also very young. Born in 1993, she turns 18 in June.
So yes, the Swedish model is still going strong after all these years.