Nightlife, 1976.

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Mid-seventies decadence, reminiscent of the provocative Helmut Newton photos shot for the 1978 film The Eyes Of Laura Mars about Faye Dunaway’s edgy fashion photographer stalked by a psycho killer. Here Chris von Wangenheim shot Patti Hansen for Christina Dior’s 1976 “Nightlife Is Your Dior” campaign, juxtaposing elegant couture cocktail gowns with flaming car wrecks, and doing it, well…just ‘cuz.

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Bramanto’s Femme Fatale

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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.

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Yeah, But She’s Got The Gun…

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In the end, it’s all about who’s holding the gun.

Master fashion photographer-storyteller Steven Meisel shoots model Carolyn Murphy for a stylish editorial in Vogue Italia from 2002 that’s a sumptuous bit of Euro-Noir. Who can tell if Murphy’s gotten mixed up with a dangerous duo out of love for the handsome boy-toy, or been blackmailed by the suave ringleader? What we do know is that she’s the one holding the gun in the end, and making off with the money.

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L.A. Noir

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Rene & Radka shoot Lauren Cohan in a classic pulp story or noir film come to life for S Magazine in 2014, the photo suite appropriately titled “L.A. Noir”, complete with the trench-coated private eye and the cocktail lounge chanteuse who trades a microphone for a revolver.

(The very striking final image below is one I see all too frequently at Pinterest boards and elsewhere, posted as a retro film noir still. )

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Primal Desire.

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primal desire vs. magazineprimal desire 3The rules are simple: Don’t always try to make sense of fashion photography and editorials. Just enjoy the visuals, and if you’re like me, you’ll let the pictures ignite story ideas. Model Daphne Groeneveld appears to be on the run, and it looks like her fella (model Felix Bujo) didn’t fare so well.  From a feature titled “Primal Desire”, shot by Hugh Lippe for the now defunct VS. Magazine in 2015.

Come on up…

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A dark stairway can lead to many different places, and in these images, it’s most likely to lead to some kind of trouble. Or…not. Karl Lagerfeld shoots Carine Roitfeld for Interview Magazine in 2011.

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Noir In Color

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Czech Republic photographer Simona Buchtova, AKA Simsalabima, demonstrating how noir in color may be more vibrant but no less dark or disturbing…or utterly gorgeous. And what color! Shown here are lush pieces of photo-art titled: “Black Velvet” above, and below” “Light My Fire II”, “Awaited”, “Lights of Bangkok” and “Lights Of Chinatown”.

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Original Sins – Trade Secrets Of The Femme Fatale

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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.

 

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