In Search of the Perfect Nude: Les Francaises. Interview: Sonia Sieff

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As a voyeur, a straight man, a lover of women, I am and have always been, and likely always will be, eternally, in search of the perfect nude. I have had a few lovers and I have been an aesthete from early on. Perhaps it is what drove me to be an editor of arts & culture publications like BlackBook. As a writer for BlackBook I have lived between the cities of New York, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Paris, London, and Milan. Beyond a cultured life, this is relevant because my existence has been mostly in apartment dwellings. From rear windows I have observed, unbeknownst to them, naked beauties in their most natural states going about simple daily chores. And in my eternal quest to find the perfect nude I have riffed through the pages of the masters’ books – Helmut Newton, Avedon, Irving Penn, Lucien Clergue, Andre De Dienes, Araki, Jeanloup Sieff, others.

Eight years past, while in Milan during fashion week I met Sonia Sieff. There for the shows, to write a few fashion stories for BlackBook, I was staying in a quaint offbeat boutique hotel. An artist friend called to invite me to supper at a local trattoria, which I politely declined out of exhaustion from the day’s events.

My friend would not take no for an answer and I was persuaded to join. At dinner I met a young neophyte fashion photographer and her beautiful accomplice, an actress whom she traveled with that day from Paris to Italy, to shoot nudes using the resplendent architectural landscape of Milan as environmental fodder. The two ladies were a piece of literature telling their story as they lived it. From the second we sat across from one another and dined on that warm Milanese evening, Sonia and I would become lifelong friends.

Like her father, the late transcendent Jeanloup Sieff, Sonia Sieff has her own unique ideology, style, fascination with life and beauty, and would follow in her father’s footsteps; but only on her very individual and strong willed terms. Les Francaises is Sonia’s stunning collection of exquisite nude photographs, of equally intriguing women subjects. The vulnerable women in the book are all friends of Sonia, which makes it personal. This creation, for Sonia, is her opportunity to be real and not cast nor produced like the fashion shoots she does for clients. Les Francaises is Sonia’s first book that captures the warmth, love, friendship, a genuineness, which extends into the images and on to the pages. It is that same feeling of creating a real life story, sans pretense, that drives Sonia in her personal and professional life. I know first-hand.

The photographs capture the sensuality of The French and the author. They tell stories using the sweeping landscapes of Europe, Paris and Normandy; the austerity vs the romantic intimacy of architectural theaters and cathedrals. And, the subtlety of nothing more than a sublime naked body in a chair, a drape, a stairwell, a turquoise blue sea, a blue frilled pillow tickling a woman’s bottom. The dramatic juxtaposition of these intriguing and resplendent bare-skinned women against the broad and intimate landscapes, is what creates the dynamism and elevated individuality of Sonia’s first book.

Just before the book was published by Rizzoli this past February 2017, Sonia and I met in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for a few days of laughs, food and wine, during an uncharacteristically warm New York winter. We pretended it was spring.

 

 

Why and when did you start shooting pictures? Tell us the story.  

I started shooting pictures when I was 17. My father Jeanloup Sieff had offered me my first camera, a Nikon FM2, for my birthday while we were in Death Valley in the US. The film I had put in the camera didn’t work properly and I was so upset that my father left me one hour to re-do the pictures I had lost: photography had become a passion! 

Is there a story to your work, a philosophical idea, something that ties life, art, creativity, work, etc, all together? 

I had the chance to be raised in an inspiring world. My parents were part of the amazing years, friends with Avedon, Newton, Yves Saint Laurent and many great artists. My home was a great ballet of talented people. And at the same time we were very strong as a family, loving to exchange ideas and our works. I knew that doing books was the only thing that will stay. Photography is instantaneous, a clic clac in the silence, a second in a life. Books are timeless. Nudes as well.

Is there an idea behind the book, why have you made it? 

I have always loved working on bodies, skin and portraits. I had also the chance to have amazing and wonderful friends who inspired me. The 30s is a magical age, mature but still wonderful. I wanted to picture the women I admire in their world. It is a book of real women not retouched who all are my friends and who could be my sisters.

Your father was famous for his nudes and your first book are nudes. Tell us more. 

Yes, I believe it is running in my blood! However, our approach is different, he was working in black and white shooting mainly in vertical whereas my nudes are in color in horizontal. I started working on movie sets and my references are mainly cinematic. 

You started shooting for the print world only. Now, how does photography connect to the digital world for you? 

We were the generation who had the chance to start working in films before the 2000s and then we were still young when digital arrived. We had to adapt ourselves to this new technology. Digital has brought a lot, democratized photography as well as social media. But more than before we desperately need pictures that stay, books to look at. We need a balance to this “swipe” world.

You live in Paris and Normandy, does the political landscape of the world, the move toward conservatism and the right, impact your work? 

Now in France we are preparing ourselves for the elections. More than before we have to fight against conservatism and the extremes. We are following what Trump has started destroying, and Brexit in the U.K. My personal story has a terrible echo to what is now happening in the world. My father was Ashkenazi (Jew) who came from Poland and escaped by miracle from the camps and the Gestapo by crossing France as he was ten years old, on a bicycle under a fake name. My mother is German and emigrated to France at 20. We strongly need to react and create a voice against the dangerous leaders who are creating struggles in our world. I have started by giving my voice to feminism, by participating in debates, podcasts, preparing documentaries to show another way.

 

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Cara Delevingne Gets Animated in New Chanel Short

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Just recently, Kristen Stewart starred in a short film featuring Chanel’s Gabrielle bag, where she assumed the persona of founder Coco. This week, she’s joined in the series by model-turned-actress and now fellow Chanel girl Cara Delevingne.

The video, created by Japanese illustrator ShiShi Yamazaki, sees Delevingne as an animated skater girl. In this surreal watercolor world, she sees a bag from the Gabrielle collection hanging from a tree in the distance. She runs toward the bag, yelling “Gabrielle!” and grabs it from the branch, riding off with her gorgeous new accessory.

Pharrell Williams will also get the Chanel treatment in this series. In the meantime, watch Cara Delevingne get animated:

 

Hopper Penn Looks Suave in New Fendi Eyewear Campaign

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The new Fendi eyewear S/S 17 campaign sees Hopper Penn (son of Sean Penn and Robin Wright) strutting down a red carpet in some seriously sleek shades.

It’s not Penn’s first time entering the fashion world – he starred in the Fay ’16 campaign last year with his sister Dylan. He’ll next appear in the upcoming film War Machine, alongside Brad Pitt and Tilda Swinton, out next month.

Take a look at the fashion campaign below:

You can shop the latest collection of spectacles here.

Penn recently opened up to the Evening Standard about growing up in such a famous household, trying to avoid the all-too-common Hollywood elitism, and his battle with addiction to crystal meth: “‘I was doing a lot of stuff,’ he says, ‘but meth was the main one that brought me down. I went to rehab because I woke up in a hospital and my dad was like, ‘Rehab? Or bus bench?'”

 

Rihanna Wore a Glittering Gucci Bodysuit to Coachella and Changed Our Lives

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Photo: @BadGalRiRi on Instagram

Coachella fashion has always been a vessel for some of the most daring looks of the year, and no one takes more advantage of the opportunity than the one and only Bad Gal Riri.

Rihanna won Coachella this year by showing up in a sparkling, crystalline bodysuit designed by Gucci’s Alessandro Michele for the Fall ’17 runway. She toned down the high-glam by accessorizing with a Gucci tank with “Common sense is not common” scribbled upon it, along with denim cutoffs and Fenty x Puma platform sneakers. Take a look at the inspiring look below:

” I can’t go home yet, cuz enough people ain’t seen my outfit “

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The suit dazzled when seen moving beneath light, as exemplified in this Twitter video:

Things went from effortless glam to intensely, ominously chic when Rihanna pulled the headpiece of the bodysuit over her head, becoming the first person to be best dressed at Coachella while wearing a diamond-encrusted head sock:

phresh out.

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New Gucci Watch Campaign Riffs on Meme Culture

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Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele proves his knack once again for being in tune with today’s youth culture. Indeed, the new watch campaign for the collection Les Marché Des Marveilles plays on the idea of memes, using the hashtag #TFWGucci (That Feeling When Gucci).

The designer enlisted meme creators to market the watches around relatable situations, often times employing humor. However, the past few days have shown that perhaps this time Gucci might have tried a little too hard.

The Internet world has been split on their judgment of the memes, some finding them cringe-worthy and unoriginal, with others finding them funny and relatable. All of the artwork can be viewed on Gucci’s microsite specific to this campaign. Browse on and judge on!

 

 

 

 

 

Edward Enninful Named New Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue

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Photo: @BritishVogue on Instagram

Edward Enninful has been named the new Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue, replacing Alexandra Shulman, who’s stepped down from the post after 25 years.

Enninful is the first male to hold the top spot at the magazine in it’s century-long history, though he’s certainly just as qualified as his female counterparts.

Edward entered the fashion industry at the tender age of 16, when he was scouted over TV to be a model, Business of Fashion reports. His first shoot was with Nick Knight, who led him to i-D, where at 18, he would become the youngest fashion director of an international publication in history.

Enninful went on to work as a Contributing Editor at both American Vogue and Vogue Italia, the latter of which he was responsible for creating the uber-successful “Black Issue.” In 2011, he was named style editor for Magazine. He’s worked independently with the most iconinc names in fashion – everyone from Calvin Klein to Lanvin to Gucci, and counts some of the industry’s most memorable names, like Marc Jacobs and Naomi Campbell, among his close friends. He was presented the Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator in 2014 and named to the Order of the British Empire in 2016 for his work championing diversity in fashion.

“I am pleased to announce the appointment of Edward Enninful, OBE, as Editor of British Vogue effective August 1, 2017. Edward is one of the most talented and accomplished fashion editors in the world,” said Condé Nast International chairman Jonathan Newhouse in a statement.

Take a look at the Instagram announcement below:

Announcing @edward_enninful as the new editor of @britishvogue – read more via the link in bio

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Kristen Stewart Embodies Coco Chanel in New ‘Gabrielle’ Campaign Film

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In the new campaign film for Chanel’s upcoming ‘Gabrielle’ handbag, Kristen Stewart takes on the persona of the iconic designer and goes on an emotional journey through a big warehouse.

The film is directed by Daniel Askill, and sees KStew (still with her hair) running around and turning off light bulbs, before seeing a beautiful bag and freaking the f*ck out. Naturally, a chandelier falls and shatters dramatically. Even more naturally, Stewart sees the word ‘Gabrielle’ written on a window and starts breathing really intensely.

Stewart’s video will be the first in a series of films coming out this month each week, with others featuring Chanel’s collection of handbag ambassadors, including Cara DeLevingne, Caroline de Maigret, and Pharrell, the first man to front a Chanel bag campaign.

Check out KStew’s film below:

Omar’s Celebrates 4th Anniversary With Glamorous Bash

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Alexandre Assouline, Michaela Vybohova & Omar

 

When Omar Hernandez opened his namesake West Village nightspot in in 2013, it immediately came to epitomize the new paradigm of elite, clandestine, yet anything by stuffy members-only supper club. Since then its plush, elegant rooms have been a prestigious meeting point and glamorous refuge for many of New York’s most fascinating people in media, fashion, publishing, etc., while also earning a stealthy reputation as a magnet for international royalty. It has, as well, hosted parties for the likes of Priyanka Chopra, Carolina Herrera and Mikimoto/BlackBook, the latter attended by Parker Posey, Nolan Funk and Cynthia Rowley.

This week the party was for Omar’s itself, a dress-up affair celebrating its fourth anniversary. In attendance were notables in fashion (Christian Siriano, Catherine Malandrino, Halston’s Cameron Silver), society (Tinsley Mortimer, Ann Dexter-Jones) and art (Tatyana Murray, Xander Ferreira), as well as photographer Ellen von Unwerth, publishing scion Alexandre Assouline, models Alex Lundqvist and Michaela Vybohova and the inimitable George Wayne – who all toasted the evening with specialty Tequila Avion cocktails. Superstar DJ Elle Dee was on the decks, providing the soundtrack.

A good bet the guest list for its five-year anniversary fete is already being considered.

 

  • Cameron Silver & Omar
  • Xander Ferreira & Ann Dexter-Jones
  • Tatyana Murray & Omar
  • Keytt & Alex Lundqvist
  • Catherine Malandrino & Omar
  • Amanda Whitcroft & Gabe Kennedy
  • George Wayne
  • Keith Patrick, Camilla Olsson, Omar & Nabeela Abrahams

Free People Threw a Party in Their Pants

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BFA / Noel McGrath

Last week, Free People, the bohemian retailer with a penchant for lively

prints, invited friends and family to put on their favorite pair of pants, and, well, just

dance. The event, which celebrated the release of a new line of bottoms, was held on

the recently opened twelfth floor of Neuehouse, a member’s only club for creatives

in Manhattan’s Flatiron district. With custom cocktails courtesy of Tito’s Vodka and

Pressed Juicery, and a DJ-set by Harley Viera-Newton, attendees danced the night

way. The room, dimly lit, with strobing ultraviolet lights, made for quite the

atmosphere. So much so that even those of with two left feet couldn’t help but get

our groove on. Between the electric outfits—you could have sworn Coachella was in

full swing—and sweeping 360-degree views, it was hard to not feel the buzz,

cocktails be damned.

Apart from the dancing, the highlight of the evening was an unexpected

double-dutch session. The jump ropes, adorned in glow sticks, quickly became the

center of attention, and the jumpers did not disappoint. By the end of the night, after

hours of dancing and an unmentionable number of juice-infused vodkas, attendees

strode out with smiles on their faces. Free People indeed.