Editorial — Editorial of the Month – September – Series: Haute Joaillerie – Idoménée – SS11

Any magazine that shares its name with an opera by André Campra is bound to have a certain dramatic flair. This is most certainly the case with the French magazine Idoménée. Again like the opera, the magazine shares certain other qualities with its early eighteenth century namesake: just as Mozart’s later opera based on the same libretto is much more widely known, Idoménée the magazine is something of a cult; the insider aficionado’s view.

Idoménée – SS11- Photo: Morgan Roudaut, Direction: Juan 2santos. Styling: Elie Ortis.

Idoménée – SS11- Photo: Morgan Roudaut, Direction: Juan 2santos. Styling: Elie Ortis.

Idoménée focuses on the more serious end of culture – whether art or fashion- and brings a very precise and considered view to its editorial. This doesn’t necessarily make it austere or boring. On the contrary, ‘dry’ is not something that could be levelled as an accusation at this title. But it does have a certain unapologetic highbrow, almost fanatical, view of fashion that means that it doesn’t really follow the same patterns that are familiar territory in more mainstream titles. Within its approach to fashion editorial, for example, it often tends to focus on stories that profile a single designer’s collection, bringing its own interpretation of a cohesive and specific body of work.

On the whole Idoménée is deeply bound up with what we might consider classic French fashion styling, a practice that is quintessentially bound up in the Parisian manifestation of luxury fashion that remains one of the tiny number of global references for international fashion at the highest level. But, in the case of Idoménée, this proud Parisian heritage is offered with a twist, reinvented and constantly playing a counterpoint to the expectations that we have of French haute couture and ‘designer fashion’.

This is perhaps best viewed in the current issue by the beautiful untitled luxury jewellery feature shot by Morgan Roudaut, directed by Juan 2santos and styled by Elie Ortis. Though this is most certainly a fashion shoot in every sense of the word, what is being profiled here are serious rocks; unique and exquisite jewellery pieces by the likes of famed names such as Lorenz Bäumer, Boucheron and Chanel for women who are very serious about jewellery and carry enough financial clout to afford it.

In this feature, however, there’s a lot more going on than simply displaying the very special items of jewellery. It’s as much about creating an atmosphere and a narrative that surrounds each of the pieces. Given both the nature of the pieces themselves and the profile of the women who might viably get to wear them in real life, it’s no surprise that it looks to certain classical art references in its positioning. Subtle lightning in a vaguely discernible luxurious interior conjures up traditions of painting and, in particular, grand portraiture; very much a classical French sensibility. But, to this aspect the story also brings a certain frisson, vague suggestions of discord or even violence, subtly achieved through make-up choices or the introduction of particular props. There’s even something of a vague homage to Guy Bourdin in the colour of the water in the bath in one image that looks decidedly like blood; the vague suggestion that an act of violence of self-harm might have transpired in the otherwise immaculate ivory tower interior.

In this sense, Idoménée joins a very long French tradition indeed and one that might even explain why Paris has remained central to international fashion for so long. There is something in French culture after all that welcomes destruction; not in an unthinking or unnecessary way, but an almost stylised and passionate connection between violence, death and renewal. Whether in the writings of De Sade and Laclos or the conceptual understanding of the French Revolution after the fact, there is something implicitly inevitable about the destruction of the old – no matter how seductively beautiful it is- in order to make way for the new. And that, after all, is an essential condition for fashion.

Idoménée – SS11- Photo (detail): Morgan Roudaut, Direction: Juan 2santos. Styling: Elie Ortis

Idoménée – SS11- Photo (detail): Morgan Roudaut, Direction: Juan 2santos. Styling: Elie Ortis