The latest issue of Geil, the relatively new Berlin-based men’s fashion and lifestyle magazine, features the story ‘Wall Street Afterhour’. Shot by Pieter Henket and styled by Geil Editor in Chief, Daniele Mancinetti, it’s a louche, sexy affair that pits strawberry blond coverboy Kevin Rice against the vivacious and voracious Masha Rudenko in a tale of after-hours insider trading of the horizontal kind.
There is little to beat a stretch limo for ostentatious vulgarity. So what could be a better setting for a story that flirts with all the clichés of hedonistic Wall Street wealth? The popular imagination’s conception of high finance has never been the same since Michael Douglas first created the template for the villainous caricature of the trader as the kind of ant-hero that everyone loves to hate, but whose wealth and lifestyle gives plenty of cause for envy. In fact, the only way that the figure of the Wall Street banker could be made any more shocking was for him to morph into a sociopath killer in Bret Easton Ellis’s ‘American Psycho’.
Deftly timed to coincide with Mr Douglas’ reprise of Gordon Gekko in the follow up to the hit that was ‘Wall Street’, the story in Geil flirts with all of the iconography of a public life defined by wealth and a private life characterised by excess. The shiny interior of the limo and other locations are drenched in translucent neon light that only underscores the somewhat unearthly quality of star model Kevin Rice, playing out the fantasies that others can only envy. If, as the ambivalent popular myths tell us, the amorality of traders is not to be trusted, then this story equally taps into the flipside of the urban myth and reinforces that the quick thrills in high places that easy money can buy us are not exactly unattractive rewards.
Kevin Rice is, of course, one of those models whose unique features make him stand out in a crowd, even when it’s a crowd of fellow models. It’s easy to see exactly why people such as Mario Testino and John Bartlett pounced on him on the streets of New York while he was still a student. Here, in the cold coloured lighting created for the shoot, he becomes the suave and suitably icy clotheshorse for an eclectic selection of brands ranging from Tom Ford to Timo Wieland. Meanwhile, leading lady Masha changes wigs, Pretty Lady-stylee, and slips into something more comfortable, including Camilla & Mark, Jean-Michel Cazabat and fur by Stærk, amongst others.
The ‘Wall Street Afterhour’ story is seductive. Naturally, part of its seduction is based in the transgressive thrill that comes on the back of an economic crisis in which the bankers and financiers have been readily cast as those to blame for the world’s current woes. Yet, to rephrase an old self-congratulatory 1980’s advertising slogan, we all know that if we weren’t all part of the solution, we were all part of the problem. Consumption is a twenty-first century disease that presents with entirely different symptoms from its eponymous nineteenth century cousin. But, like its predecessor, there are reasons that men and women should be housed in separate wards. As Geil’s shoot points out, it shares the symptoms with its Victorian predecessor of being fevered and highly sexualised.