Friday, September 14, 2007

Dressed in Verse, Ace?

Since Monday's visit to Click Chic I've been asking a question that I more-or-less always ask: What is sophistication?

I ask because certain "seams" are painfully obvious to me -- in both the fashion photography I saw in that show and in most of the visuals I saw during New York Fashion week -- and I think you can learn as much by what doesn't work as from what does.

Here's what I'm saying: reference without depth is unsophisticated. A fashion photograph that calls to mind Helmut Newton's work, or Guy Bourdin's -- work that now forms a sort of fashion-photography canon, for better or worse -- cannot simply reference the older work and call it a day. A reference without some change of perspective is just bad copywork.

Putting up something derivative seems to me to imply a low opinion of the audience. It says "I know the reference, I'm copying the reference, but you wouldn't know it." Or perhaps it says "what do you mean, now go further?"

In any case, ironically, it's an attempt to be sophisticated that falls flat if the audience is, in fact, not stupid. I think real sophistication takes the opposite tack -- assuming an audience that knows, that wants to know, and that gets the joke.

No comments: