Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Testino's Testimony

   Having finally taken and passed my driving theory test, I no longer have to face the boredom of watching DSA's Hazard Perception DVD on repeat and flicking through the utterly dull pages of their theory test book. Instead I can read and watch whatever I want. So, having now seen the hilarious Vanessa Paradis French rom-com 'L'Arnacoeur', I have also finally read and enjoyed GQ's September Issue and seriously, it's a good one.

     From Simon Emmett's so-sexy-it-could-turn-you-straight shoot of Bar Rafaeli to Tony Parson's take on first class flights and GQ's presentation of the AW collections to Johnathan Heath's insight into the peculiar world of Craig Gross' XXX church, the issue does not disappoint.
    However, what struck me most, was neither the shoot nor the articles themselves but instead, the ten Testino portraits and interview in the midst of the magazine. The shots are taken from Testino's upcoming exhibition. The one, which is beginning to invoke an orgy of excitement in the fashion world, as each breathless photograph gives us a unique and intimate look into the lives of today's biggest stars, whether they're Gwyneth Paltrow or Gisele, Claudia Schiffer or Lady GaGa.

      They're stunning. Testino captures beauty in a way which few fashion photographers do. He captures it with honesty, even when under the limited direction of a magazine or a designer he somehow finds it. Although, even he himself acknowledges that this is hard. In GQ he states 'I do pictures and sometimes they don't get published. And I think it's usually the more risqué ones and they're the ones I tend to like more.'
     It's so easy to forget that within fashion shoots there is a constant hierarchy which rarely falters. The models lay at the bottom of the heap, then the stylist, hair and make-up artists, then the photographer and finally the magazine or designer because the purpose of a photo shoot is to act as a selling tool for a magazine or a brand. Of course it can be quirky and different but not so much so that it will put off its readers.
      Consequently, even a photographer as famous as Testino, is submitted to the restrictions and guidelines of the magazines he works for because each magazine has its own reputation; each Vogue has its own reputation. American Vogue is 'commercial', French Vogue is 'sophisticated', British Vogue is 'shabby-chic' and Italian Vogue is 'out-there'.

     And, although American Vogue is the most popular of them, with 1.25 million readers, even Vogue Italia, which is known for the generous freedom it gives to its photographers, has to commercialize itself in order to sell. Thus, a photographer such as Testino does not have the creative liberty, which he would need to devise or at least publish images, pertinent to him.
     However, whilst I do long for a day in which 'alien', unique shoots can dominate magazines and the general public will come to love them, there is something wonderful about all facets of fashion working together to create images not only for themselves but for us.
     Of course Vogue Italia's recent use of Beyoncé in an interview and photo-shoot was a brilliant commercial plug to satisfy our celebrity driven desires but she is beautiful, and, combined with the old Hollywood setting of the set and photographer Francesco Carrozzini's talent, magic happened. Beyoncé has never looked more high fashion.

    A photographer's preferred personal work is and always will be their most intriguing; no doubt Testino's exhibition will prove that. However, the combination of a fashion team's efforts and opinions creates beauty, which no one man or woman can do alone, not even Testino.


  1. Hi Sam!

    Thank you so much for your lovely message on IFB, International Fashion bloggers.

    I've snooped around a bit on your blog and I love it.
    And I´ve just added you on Bloglovin & Google and I would be delighted if you could add me too ...
    Seeya in the blogsphere!

    Lots of love Blogoholic ♥

  2. he's a great talent...i love how he sees beyond the lense and beyond his photographing something that's there and the vague aura that surrounds it.