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What is Beauty?

What is Beauty?

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Sophie Quain

What is Beauty?

N0418601 Communication and Message Illustrated Essay FASH20031 Sarah Lewington

Contents What is Beauty? Introduction P4 What is the Inspiration? P4 What is the Concept? P6 What about Styling and Composition? P6 What about Man Ray? P10 What about Post Production? P12 Which Publication? P14 What is Beauty? Conclusion P16 What happened Behind the Scenes? P18

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Reference List P20 Bibliography P21 Appendix P22 Word Count 2004

2 Fig.1 Beauty Studio image - Sophie Quain


CONTENTS

What is Beauty?

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What is Beauty?

What is Beauty? Analytical Illustrated Essay

What is beauty? This is such a broad question, as each individual would interpret it differently. Looking at today’s society is it evident that the fashion industry projects ideals of the ‘perfect woman’ making individuals question ‘am I normal?’ (Amber, 2012). Consequently, creating false aspirations and supressing people’s body confidence, in other words ‘it’s sad, how plastic and artificial life has become’ (Scott, J,C 2011). The intention behind the images is to stand up for diversity in beauty and creating a step towards changing the outlook of the belief of being ‘a failure if you are not beautiful’ (Greer, G. 2000). The purpose behind the photographic shoot was to visualise diversity in the sense of what is beauty. The overarching theme is to empower black women –juxtaposing how the industry presents itself – bringing diversity to the forefront. Furthermore, the shoot challenges ethnicity and the stereotypical views of beauty in order to break ‘the shimmering illusion’ (Lipkin, J. 2005 p154) of appearance presented to society as the norm. It is evident that still in today’s society racial fragmentation continues to occur and the ideals of beauty are not a realistic representation of the society that we live in. Even though several publications such as Vogue Italia have featured different ethnicities, the question still arises as to why is this not a standard feature? However, it is presented as a special one off like the ‘All Black Italian Vogue’ and the odd runway show which ‘consistently use one or no models of colour’ (Florence Davey-Attlee, 2013) - resulting with further fragmentation of beauty.

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The initial inspiration for this shoot originated from the book ‘The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison’. The narrative explores a young black girl supressed and abused by society, whilst she yearns to have blue eyes, in order to be accepted and not be viewed as abnormal. This concept was very thought provoking and terribly realistic about pressures of beauty in today’s society. This backed up with ‘at New York Fashion week in February, only 6% of designs were shown on black models’ (Florence Davey-Attlee, 2013). Moreover, ‘photography pretends to show reality,’ (Ewing, A, W 2008 p104) giving women a false representation of beauty. Continuing on the issue of race, in order for black models to be at the forefront of the industry, the view is that ‘they have to be actually perfect, whereas white girls, can be more quirky-looking’ (Florence Davey-Attlee, 2013).


Fig.2 Marc by Marc Jacobs What is Beauty?

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Nevertheless it is evident that ‘most of the photos we come across today aren’t really authentic anymore (Ewing, A, W 2008, Ruff. T p25). Bearing this in mind the portrayal of beauty in the shot was planned to be realistic and true. It obliterates preconceived ideas and manipulation of the image in order to see beauty and diversity stripped back – empowering black women.

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In terms of styling, the composition of the shoot was taken into consideration at every step of the way. The conscious decision of using both a black and white model juxtaposes the issue and questions how the line of beauty became so distorted. The question also remains as to why racism is acceptable on the runway yet is frowned upon elsewhere?

As a consequence of carrying out a test shoot, it became increasingly evident that the interpretation of beauty should conform from the line of the body, with a strong emphasis on ethnicity, taking a step back from preconceived ideals of beauty. After reflection, it was decided upon that the jewellery would not be included in the final shoot as it distracted the eye. Also the decision for the models to wear nude underwear originated from this point – stripped back but care was taken not to over sexualise the imagery but to use the underwear to protect their dignity without fragmenting the body. Also this provided the flexibility to capture close up headshots without the interference of garments.

Fig.3 Test Photoshoot

What is Beauty?


What is Beauty?

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What is Beauty?

The original idea was to use white contact lenses on both models to ‘blind’ their vision as a metaphor for how little say individuals have on beauty – bringing the book to life - making the models mentally blind to the colour of their skin. However, after consideration this was far too literal to the book ‘The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison’ and diverged slightly off topic. As a result, the shoot consisted of a vast number of shots with different poses, interactions and changes of the gaze, because after all the eyes can say so much more than words. The depth of field was an element that was key to the shot in order to achieve a level of dominance from the black model. This dominance projected from the gaze, is by no means to be taken in an arrogant manner, but as confidence and standing for change – broadening the national perspective of beauty. The minimalistic composition with the ‘calm, blank background allows us to concentrate fully’ (Ewing, A.W 2008 p38) on the models themselves. As well as the prominent gaze from the black model and the blur of skin tone. This reinforces that diversity is beauty – resulting with captivating storytelling – getting the audience intrigued and interested in the concept.

Fig. 4 Dieter_2.0 – Michael Najjar

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What is Beauty?

The narrative is developed together with the growth of confidence presented by the black model. From the photographic shoot, the white model’s presence alongside the black model as well as the connection between the two indicates how far the fashion industry has to come in order to change the preconceived ideals of beauty to reflect society realistically. This conversation entwined into the narrative is subtle yet intriguing. Inviting the viewer to look past the aesthetic and interpret beauty from one’s own perspective consequently developing the notion of beauty.

Fig.5 Beauty Studio image - Sophie Quain 9


What is Beauty?

Fig.6 Man Ray - Lee Miller Portrait

Man Ray was a further inspiration in terms of composition and lighting. His minimalistic photography captures a great breath of tone, whilst the gaze depicts a narrative for itself. The simplicity conjoined to form the narrative depicted in fig 6 has such a strong sense of personality. From this, the composition and direction of the shoot, led to cropping the image by defining shapes using the body. The contrast of skin tone defines the image and projects the models to the forefront. Furthermore, from analyzing the gaze presented in Man Ray’s photography, it became increasingly evident how the narrative is subverted by the direction and power behind the gaze. The eye contact with the camera builds a connection with the viewer, whether as a form of dominance, an escape or alternatively longing for something – this instantly engages the viewer. The images did not require a great deal of manipulation in post-production - the blur was intensified and the subject sharpened in order to form a contrast in tone. These slight changes resulted in a striking image, bearing in mind that ‘the stronger and more unusual the mental impression, the greater the influence’ (Bergström, B 2008 P79). After consideration, the colour palette shifted to greyscale and the contrast and exposure was intensified. As a result the focus shifted to the silhouette and relationship between the two models. The decision for greyscale editing was inspired by Man Ray’s photography, which has a strong narrative, emphasised with the muted colour palette. Cropping the image resulted with a shift in focus – empowering the models - making a bold statement, as the gaze is difficult to avoid. As a consequence of this, the black model is at the forefront, inviting the viewer to comment on her exterior beauty. This is supported by the idea that ‘the surface is all you’ve got’ (Avedon, R. Ewing, A. W 2008 p25).

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What is Beauty?

Fig. 7 Lee Miller - Man Ray

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What is Beauty?

Fig.8 Blur - Beauty Studio Image - Sophie Quain

Fig.9 Dystopia - Aziz Cucher

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What is Beauty?

Fig.10 Breathing himself invisible - Axel Antas

The lack of post-production accentuates the natural diversity in beauty and the play on depth of field stands out due to the casting of models as well as the gaze being strong enough to carry the image. If anything, a vast amount of post-production would go against the concept and in the words of John Berger it would ‘rob us of our love for ourselves’ (Bergström, B 2008 P67). Furthermore, the conscious decision of minimal editing resulted with a pure reflection of beauty - embracing the diversity of skin tone. Nevertheless, experiments with postproduction were undergone in order to produce a striking yet natural aesthetic – this was effective in terms of changing the focal point as well as creating a blur of preconceived ideals of beauty. It became apparent that deconstructing the facial features into a blur, similar to the likes of Aziz and Cucher and Axel Antas (see fig 9 & 10) resulted with a ‘strange obliteration

of the human face’ (Ewing, A.W Serge Dancy 2008 p145). Consequently, the addition of the blur to the face, made the images far less personal as the gaze was also removed. This made it difficult for the viewer to relate, feel the emotion and understand the narrative behind the imagery. Initially, the blur was significant to reflect how ethnicity and diversity of beauty is translated in the fashion industry – blurred to an undefined state, to the extreme of not being considered as beautiful. This was further developed with the positioning of the white model in the shoot – by making her step back and become the black model’s shadow which is reminiscent yet a juxtaposition to how the fashion industry look past diversity in beauty. 13


What is Beauty?

Fig.11 Daniel Sannwald A series of images from the shoot will be incorporated into AnOther Magazine. The readership and tone of voice of this publication compliments the concept and context of the shoot. The images will make the reader consider how our multicultural society is not transferred onto the runway and so considering what the result is of portraying beauty in such a one leveled dimension – an article not to be skimmed over. Furthermore, the shoot will address the question of what is beauty and ‘confront the subject head on’ (Ewing, A.W 2008 p165). Moreover, the ideal reaction to the shoot is to make the reader feel, think and act. By raising awareness of the fragmentation present in the industry as well as how beauty is currently portrayed to ‘constitute a fluid environment of never fully attainable desire’ (Ewing. A,W 2008 p12). It is evident that this is a thought provoking, sensitive issue which requires

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addressing, especially due to the affect of ‘advertising shaping our attitudes and beliefs (Frith, K. T p14). The crisp, clean lines depicted in Daniel Sannwald’s photography sit in line with the concept – minimal with a strong emphasis on the models. In particular the parallel shadow conformed of the models (seen in Fig11) is very effective and really emphasises the depth of field as well as the line of the body. The use of contrast and exposure highlights tone and defines the image. This styling emphasis and use of negative space appears in the likes of AnOther magazine. Therefore complimenting the composition of the shoot and sitting in line with the design concept of the desired publication.

Fig. 12 AnOther Logo


What is Beauty?

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What is Beauty?

Fig.13 Studio Image - SQ Greyscale 1

Fig.14 Studio Image - SQ Greyscale 2

Beauty has been visualised in a simplistic manner with minimal editing – bringing natural beauty and diversity to the forefront. AnOther magazine provides a platform to bring the statement ‘What is Beauty’ to life, whilst complimenting the design outlook. The styling and narrative behind the shoot makes the viewer consider where we are now and why black models are not represented on the runway consistently. Moreover, bringing to the forefront just how one-dimensional the portrayal of beauty is in the industry and the consequential negative affect on individuals. The gaze depicted in the images brings a sense of confidence – standing up for change – whilst the juxtaposition of styling draws the eye to the black model. Likewise, questioning what society and the industry deems as beauty, which consequently obliterates self-confidence and individuality. With the long-term connotation to break away from the preconception that one must, ‘arrange oneself to look like one was supposed to look’ (Ewing, A, W 2008 p19) into how you personally want to look whilst embracing ethnicity and body shape. This would then be transferred onto the runway to accept diversity in beauty and prompt the viewer ‘to summon up the courage to confront our own insecurities and expectations (Ewing, A, W 2008 p29) of beauty.

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Fig.15 Studio Image - SQ Greyscale 3


What is Beauty?

17 Fig.16- 6% Beauty Studio image - Sophie Quain - Models - Oliva Austin & Becky Bussey


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Behind the scene

What is Beauty?

Fig 17 Beauty Studio images - Sophie Quain/Sarah Williams


From Inital ConcepT_to shoot_to post-production_to final edit

What is Beauty?

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What is Beauty? Fig 17 Sophie Quain/Sarah Williams Photography – own Reference List photograph – studio 31/10/13 Bergström, B (2008) Essentials of Visual Communication Fig 18. Beauty Studio images layered - SQ 31/10/13 Laurence King Ewing. A W (2008) Thames & Hudson - Face The New Photographic Portrait Frith, K. T (2006) Undressing the Ad – Reading Culture in Advertising, Peter Lang Publishing Inc; 3rd Revised edition Halloran, J.D (1974) Race as News. The Unesco press Florence Davey-Attlee. (2013). Naomi Campbell, Iman call for an end to runway racism. Available: http://edition.cnn. com/2013/09/17/living/models-runway-race/. [Accessed 14th Nov 2013] Greer, G. (2000), The Whole Woman, Anchor [Online] http:// www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2211542-the-whole-woman [Accessed 22nd Novemeber 2013] Mallonnee, L. (2013) The Result is Racism [Online] http:// observer.com/2013/09/bethann-hardison-letters-condemningfashion-week-racism-models/ [Accessed 15th Novemeber 2013] Scott, J,C (2011) The Other Side of Life [Online] http://www. goodreads.com/work/quotes/13985338-the-other-side-of-lifecyberpunk-elven-trilogy-1 [Accessed 21st Novemeber] Amber 16 (2012) I want to change my body, BBC three. BBCiPlayer [Online] http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/ p00tt4f [Accessed 22nd October 2013] List of Illustrations Fig 1 Sophie Quain Photography – own photograph –studio 31/10/13 Fig 2 Marc by Marc Jacobs 2013 http://playingwithscarves. files.wordpress.com/2013/01/marc-by-marc-jacobsspring-2013-1.jpg Fig 3 Sophie Quain Photography – own photograph- Test shoot 28/10/13 Fig 4 Dieter_2.0 – Michael Najjar http://www.qcp.org.au/ uploads/images/artists/Michael%20Najjar/ Fig 5 Sophie Quain Photography – own photograph - studio Fig 6 Man Ray – Lee Miller Close up http://www.influxus.art. br/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/manray.jpg Fig 7 Lee Miller – Man Ray http://www.agentofstyle. com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2013/04/tumblr_ mg29kmcCgH1rw3fqbo1_1280.png1.jpg Fig 8 Sophie Quain Photography – own photograph – studio 31/10/13 Fig 9 Dystopia - Aziz Cucher http://www.azizcucher.net/ public/uploads/25/image_2316717330.jpg Fig 10 Breathing himself invisible - Axel Antas http://www. axelantas.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/white2-960x960. jpg Fig 11 Daniel Sannwald http://i.theones2watch.com/wpcontent/img/sannwald/01.png Fig 12. AnOther Logo http://static.exacteditions.com/themes/ anothermagazine/logo.gif Fig 13 Sophie Quain Photography – own photograph – studio 31/10/13 Fig 14 Sophie Quain Photography – own photograph – studio 31/10/13 Fig 15 Sophie Quain Photography – own photograph – studio 31/10/13 Fig 16 Sophie Quain Photography – own photograph – studio 20 31/10/13


What is Beauty? content/img/sannwald/01.png Bibliography Fig 12. AnOther Logo http://static.exacteditions.com/themes/ Bergström, B (2008) Essentials of Visual Communication anothermagazine/logo.gif Laurence King Fig 13 Sophie Quain Photography – own photograph – studio Ewing. A W (2008) Thames & Hudson - Face The New 31/10/13 Photographic Portrait Fig 14 Sophie Quain Photography – own photograph – studio Frith, K. T (2006) Undressing the Ad – Reading Culture in 31/10/13 Advertising, Peter Lang Publishing Inc; 3rd Revised edition Fig 15 Sophie Quain Photography – own photograph – studio Halloran, J.D (1974) Race as News. The Unesco press 31/10/13 Fig 16 Sophie Quain Photography – own photograph – studio 31/10/13 [Accessed 21st November 2013] Fig 17 Sophie Quain/Sarah Williams Photography – own Florence Davey-Attlee. (2013). Naomi Campbell, Iman call photograph – studio 31/10/13 for an end to runway racism. Available: http://edition.cnn. Fig 18. Beauty Studio images layered - SQ 31/10/13 com/2013/09/17/living/models-runway-race/. [Accessed 14th Nov 2013] Models - Olivia Austin and Becky Bussey Greer, G. (2000), The Whole Woman, Anchor [Online] http:// www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2211542-the-whole-woman [Accessed 22nd November 2013] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/fashionis-racist-insider-lifts-lid-on-ethnic-exclusion-782974.html Independent (2008) Fashion is Racist. [Online] Mallonnee, L. (2013) The Result is Racism [Online] http:// observer.com/2013/09/bethann-hardison-letters-condemningfashion-week-racism-models/ [Accessed 15th November 2013] Prabu, D. (2002) Body Image, Race and Fashion Models. Communication Research [Online] http://crx.sagepub.com/ content/29/3/270.short [Accessed 22nd November 2013] Scott, J,C (2011) The Other Side of Life [Online] http://www. goodreads.com/work/quotes/13985338-the-other-side-of-lifecyberpunk-elven-trilogy-1 [Accessed 21st November 2-13] Webster, G. (2011) CNN [Online] http://edition.cnn. com/2011/10/07/living/fashion-industry-race/ [Accessed 22nd November 2013] Amber 16 (2012) I want to change my body, BBC three. BBCiPlayer [Online] http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/ p00tt4f [Accessed 22nd October 2013] List of Illustrations Fig 1 Sophie Quain Photography – own photograph –studio 31/10/13 Fig 2 Marc by Marc Jacobs 2013 http://playingwithscarves. files.wordpress.com/2013/01/marc-by-marc-jacobsspring-2013-1.jpg Fig 3 Sophie Quain Photography – own photograph- Test shoot 28/10/13 Fig 4 Dieter_2.0 – Michael Najjar http://www.qcp.org.au/ uploads/images/artists/Michael%20Najjar/ Fig 5 Sophie Quain Photography – own photograph - studio Fig 6 Man Ray – Lee Miller Close up http://www.influxus.art. br/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/manray.jpg Fig 7 Lee Miller – Man Ray http://www.agentofstyle. com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2013/04/tumblr_ mg29kmcCgH1rw3fqbo1_1280.png1.jpg Fig 8 Sophie Quain Photography – own photograph – studio 31/10/13 Fig 9 Dystopia - Aziz Cucher http://www.azizcucher.net/ public/uploads/25/image_2316717330.jpg Fig 10 Breathing himself invisible - Axel Antas http://www. axelantas.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/white2-960x960. jpg Fig 11 Daniel Sannwald http://i.theones2watch.com/wp-

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Appendix

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What is Beauty?


What is Beauty?

23 Fig 17 Beauty Studio images layered - SQ


'Photography pretends to show reality' T h o m a s

R u f f

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(Ewing, A, W 2008 p104)

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What is Beauty?


What is Beauty Illustrated Report