The eternal struggle between good and evil and humankind’s fall from grace are, indeed, weighty topics for a fashion story. But the fashion story, ‘The Fall – A Truly Divine Story’ in the current issue of Vs. Magazine not only rises to the occasion but offers gasp-inducing images that are unquestionably worthy of editorial note.
Drawing on these ancient themes – or more precisely, the art historical languages in Western art approaching the subject- ‘The Fall’ is a fashion shoot in which clothing by John Galliano, Marc Jacobs, A.F. Vandevorst, Bruno Pieters and many others (the cast of design talent is almost as large as the full stage of photographed models) is placed into a highly staged series of photographed tableaux vivants, each one referencing historical styles of painting that we associate with the subject matter; think Flemish Primitives via Northern Renaissance to the melodramatic excesses of Pre-Raphaelite morality genres.
Simon Procter’s cinematic photographs capture the essence and movement –frozen as beautiful stills- that both remind us of the artist’s age-old attempts to capture movement in the still image and, indeed, underscore the sprawling logistics of the project, itself a collaboration with choreographer Julian Blight and the collective En But d’Aller Vers. It becomes a project in which the layers of reference – like Alicia Lombardini’s styling- are built up in semi-transparent layers: photography referencing dance in turn referencing painting…
Just as Alicia Lomardini’s styling exercises precision in connecting very contemporary clothing with imagery in the collective consciousness without ever disrupting the intrinsic credibility of the image, so too do Procter’s photos operate a precise constraint. Here there are very few star turns. As in the old paintings aiming to build up an aesthetic grouping in which the whole of society was represented, here the close-up gives way to the middle view, again underscoring the connections with images built up on a stage.
‘The Fall’ is a fine example of a fashion story that readily counteracts any facile idea that fashion is only produced by image makers that have little idea of their art historical context.