“Our Last Hours Before He Killed Himself”

olga sherer by elisabeth toll bon magazine 2009 our last hours before he killed himself

I often say that many ‘artsier’ and edgier fashion editorials tell a story, or mean to at any rate. But even if creative directors, art directors and photographers have lofty narrative goals, the purpose of the shoots is to sell clothes. Or shoes, makeup, accessories or whatever.

But when a shoot is titled “Our Last Hours Before He Killed Himself”, as is this one by Elisabeth Toll with model Olga Sherer for a 2009 issue of Bon magazine…well, clearly the creative team had something narrative in mind. And that’s one hell of  title.

Elisabeth Toll 3Elisabeth Toll 2Elisabeth Toll 1Elisabeth Toll 4

New Orleans Noir

Streetcar of desire 1992 - 2

The copy for “Streetcar Of Desire”, a 1992 Harper’s Bazaar fashion editorial, almost reads like the cover tease for a steamy noir or erotic thriller (minus all the ‘lets-sell-pricey-lingerie’ stuff). “Languorous, sexual, darkly colored, (it) could be inspired by love and lust. These are looks to feed the flame of longing and light up the shadows of a summer night (with) reflections of Blanche DuBois – silk and lace against lily-white skin”. Hmmm, listen to my keyboard sizzle. Shot by Phillip Dixon, model Tatjana Patitz is more a French Quarter femme fatale than Blanche Dubois’ fey and faded beauty, but the images are enough to inspire any noir’s doomed love affair.

Streetcar of desire 1992 - 1Streetcar of desire 1992 - 3Streetcar of desire 1992 - 4

Ice Picks & Fishnets

madonna 2010

You see blonde hair, then the ice pick, and might assume that it’s Sharon Stone as Catherine Tramell, the murderous mystery novelist in Paul Verhoeven’s 1992 Basic Instinct. Not quite that character’s look, though. And no, it’s actually Madonna, shot by Mert + Marcus in 2010, ramming her pick into a wood floor instead of Michael Douglas.

Black Friday

Lila Cardona 1

I think the photo suite was titled “Black Friday”. Peter Gehrke shoots model Lila Cardona in a noir-ish homage, strictly black and white, for And Other Stories’ Black Friday campaign in 2018. It’s no stretch to concoct your own story for this series, with Cardona heading up the dark stairway, perhaps to her in-town love nest getaway. A call is made on arrival. To her lover for a rendezvous later? Well…could be. Or, just as likely, for a rendezvous with something much more sinister. She peers through the blinds, apprehensive, then glances at her reflection in the mirror, seeing the face of a lover, the face of a liar, the face of a killer…

Lila Cardona 2ila Cardona 3Lila Cardona 4

Bramanto’s Femme Fatale

Julius Bramanto 1

Assisted by Reza Bustami and Phillip Kwok, photographer Julius Bramanto’s photo suite, called simply “Femme Fatale”, looks  right out of a 1990’s erotic thriller, and is a reminder that pickups and hookups don’t always end well, since love (or lust) can be a deadly affair.

Julius Bramanto 2Julius Bramanto 3Julius Bramanto 4Julius Bramanto 5

Secret Agent Chic

Sasha Luss 1

Guy Aroch’s behind the camera, Vadim Galaganov handles styling duties and Sasha Luss is the very lethal looking secret agent in this July 2019 photo editorial for Elle Russia magazine. A clandestine meeting and planned briefcase exchange apparently goes bad, but I suspect that Sasha-the-spy (and her scary looking automatic) resolved things in the end.

Sasha Luss 2Sasha Luss 3Sasha Luss 4Sasha Luss 5Sasha Luss 6

How Gauche.

Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, American Vogue, March 1985. Photograph by Helmut Newton.

I get a kick out of imagining the stories behind narrative style fashion photography. And oh, what a tale we could come up with for this one, like a still right out of a 1980’s direct-to-video erotic thriller. Here Helmut Newton shoots a bit of upscale haute couture neo-noir for Yves Saint Laurent/Rive Gauche for US Vogue back in 1985. Gun in one hand, phone in the other, but it’s the woman reflected in the round mirror that unnerves me. Something bad just went down, or is about to…

Meow.

three cats by igor shmatov

It’s not Selina Kyle, though it sure could be. In street clothes, that is (well, sort of). “Three Cats”, by Igor Shmatov

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑