Motel Affair

Motel Affair 1

Narrative fashion editorials tell stories, but only ‘sort-of’, so it can be amusing to fill in the blanks. Consider this 2011 Flair Austria editorial, “Motel Affair” shot by Uwe Duettmann with model Johanna Jonsson.

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So, what’s the story here? Merely some stylish neo-noir style motel infidelity, with model Jonsson waiting impatiently for her lover to arrive? But no, there seems to be more going on, evidenced by her hasty getaway, especially since it seems she left someone behind…and it’s unclear if he’s only asleep, or dead.

But then, I really read way too much into these things…

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Lagerfeld’s Femme Fatale

by karl lagerfeld

Her dark apparel and even darker hair barely emerge from the shadowy black background. A cigarette dangles from her lips, eyes fixed on the nylon sheen as she adjusts her stocking. All that’s missing is a cleverly hidden .22 revolver.

Karl Lagerfeld – designer, artist, photographer and creative director for Chanel, Fendi and his own fashion house — who passed away last week, shoots model Anna Mougalis as the Noir Femme Fatale personified.

Don’t Talk To Strangers In Cars

Gwen Stefani by Michelangelo Battista

Sound advice: Don’t approach a car idling at the curb and don’t talk to strangers. Especially a stranger leaning out of the driver’s side window who looks as menacing as singer Gwen Stefani does in this retro-styled image from fashion photographer Michelangelo Battista.

A Star In Her Own Style

a star in her own style 1Give me a roadside motel or a truck stop diner, some moody lighting and talented creatives, and my mind’s hard at work cooking up stories behind the photos. I just can’t help myself. Problem is, there are just too many such stories swirling around in my head right now.

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In the April 2016 Vogue Italia editorial titled “A Star In Her Own Style”, Vincent Peters shot Angela Lindvall looking like a lady on the run. But whether she’s fleeing from her lover, the law, or running off with the loot, well…who knows? I don’t know what the fashion editorial’s title is supposed to mean. Don’t care, either.

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Original Sins – Trade Secrets Of The Femme Fatale

original sins

Kim Krizan started out as an actor (Dazed And Confused and other films) but is surely better known as a writer, including the Oscar nominated screenplays for Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, and a surprising amount of work in the comics field. She garnered quite a bit of ink with her 2012 Kickstarter efforts to self-publish Original Sins – Trade Secrets Of The Femme Fatale, and I’d say that the contributors’ funding was well invested. It’s a handsome book in a sturdy library style binding, filled with photos and illustrations.

“We all feign roles so as to survive and achieve our desired ends,” she writes. “The Fatale takes control of her life by telling her own story and co-opting powerful symbols. She creates her own publicity, circumvents the lousy constricting roles she doesn’t wish to play, commands the attention she desires, and gets what she wants – or has fun trying. A femme fatale is a creature not born, but made. Key to the Fatale’s power is that she makes no apologies for being female.”

Skim the book and you’ll come away with a detailed (if tongue in cheek…I think) guide on what to wear when murdering your husband, for example. Really plunge in, though, and you’ll enjoy Krizan’s flippant tone and naughty sense of dark whimsy as she surveys femmes fatales throughout history, pop culture and, in particular, film noir. It’s all peppered with sidebars and bulleted insets providing a femme fatale wannabe with specific instructions on what to drink, what to drive, where to live and mostly, what to wear in order to commit mayhem in style. And in doing so, Krizan provides a nifty look at so many seminal crime melodramas and noir classics, focusing on the female characters instead of Mitchum, Garfield, Bogart and crew who’ve been covered before.

 

On The Run

frances coombe anastasia ivanova unwerth vogue italia

Writers find inspiration in many places. Actually, story ideas are rarely an issue. Finding the time write them all is more of an issue, right? As for me, an unlikely but fruitful source of inspiration is in fashion editorial photography. Not just plain ol’ glamour shots, but the artfully styled pieces on elaborate sets and locations, often telling some sort of enigmatic story in pictures. I gaze at the sumptuous images and make up all kinds of stories in my head.

Here we see Frances Coombe and Anastasia Ivanova photographed by Ellen von Unwerth for Vogue Italia. Are they on the run? And if so, from who? The law, their spouses, lovers…maybe they lifted a bag of money from the mob?  Who knows, but it’s fun to play make believe with the photos…

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