Men as seen th­rou­gh wo­men’s eyes

VOGUE (Italy) - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By Lu­cy Ku­ma­ra Moo­re

For this spe­cial 50th an­ni­ver­sa­ry is­sue of L’Uo­mo Vo­gue, f ive wo­men pho­to­gra­phers ha­ve been com­mis­sio­ned to shoot f ive men­swear sto­ries, ea­ch one fo­cu­sing on a ma­jor men­swear gen­re and re­fe­ren­cing one of the pa­st f ive de­ca­des. Ju­lia Het­ta shoo­ts eve­ning­wear in a 1970s mood. Ariel­le Bobb-Wil­lis, a ri­sing star at on­ly 24 years old, cap­tu­res sports­wear inf lec­ted with 1980s pop ener­gy. Col­lier Schorr pho­to­gra­phs men in jeans and lea­ther to in­vo­ke the gen­der po­li­tics of 1990s New York. An­ne­ma­rie­ke van Drim­me­len pre­sen­ts a new ta­ke on tai­lo­ring à la 2000s and Bri­git­te La­com­be pho­to­gra­phs th­ree men of music th­rou­gh the lens of the 2010s. The­se far-rea­ching fa­shion sto­ries ta­ke stock of the pa­st, but they do so to pre­sent us with a t otal­ly contemporary vi­sion: men seen th­rou­gh the eyes of wo­men in 2018.


Fa­shion has been im­por­tant for ar­ti­st Col­lier Schorr from the be­gin­nings. At her de­but show in New York in 1987, she ex­hi­bi­ted col­la­ges ma­de using Xe­rox pho­to­co­pies of Calvin Klein and Guess ad­verts. As a tee­na­ger gro­wing up in a pre-di­gi­tal world, her be­droom wall was co­ve­red with wo­men­swear ad­verts torn from fa­shion ma­ga­zi­nes, be­cau­se their at­ti­tu­de of fe­ma­le ma­chi­smo was so­me­thing she could iden­ti­fy with and de­si­re. In the th­ree de­ca­des sin­ce, Schorr has ex­hi­bi­ted in the world’s mo­st pre­sti­gious in­sti­tu­tions and gal­le­ries in­clu­ding the Mu­seum of Mo­dern Art in New York, the Pom­pi­dou Me­tz, the Con­sor­tium in Di­jon, and the Istan­bul Bien­nial. From the mid-90s, she’s ma­de fa­shion edi­to­rials and cam­pai­gns. Fa­shion pho­to­gra­phy, with its edu­ca­ted and cu­rious au­dien­ce of mil­lions, of­fers a plat­form from whi­ch Schorr con­duc­ts an en­qui­ry (as she does with her art­work) in­to de­si­re, sel­fhood and iden­ti­ty. She says: “ma­king ima­ges has been the mo­st im­por­tant thing I could do, re­pro­du­cing my­self and my ideas and cha­rac­ters and de­si­res… Eve­ry ti­me I ma­ke a pic­tu­re it’s for the ge­ne­ral po­pu­la­tion ra­ther than an eli­te group of art viewers. And I al­ways wan­ted my pic­tu­res to roll th­rou­gh the ci­ty on bu­ses and bill­boards say­ing what I wan­ted to say like the agit-prop I was so mo­ved by.”

Shoo­ting jeans and lea­ther for this is­sue of L’Uo­mo Vo­gue has a par­ti­cu­lar re­so­nan­ce. Schorr ex­pe­rien­ced 1980s and 1990s New York fir­st-hand, whe­re, in the wa­ke of the Aids epi­de­mic, the sar­to­rial co­des of the gay com­mu­ni­ty shif­ted. Choi­ces about what to wear, and how, we­re no lon­ger about si­gni­fy­ing se­xua­li­ty and de­si­re (see, for exam­ple, Hal Fi­scher’s land­mark pho­to­gra­phic pro­ject Gay Se­mio­tics: A Pho­to­gra­phic Stu­dy of Vi­sual Co­ding Among

Ho­mo­se­xual Men), but now took on a po­li­ti­cal di­men­sion. Schorr says: “this was a ve­ry com­plex shoot. Fir­stly the pre­mi­se - that it’s bo­dies and clo­thing that mo­ves from the 80’s in­to the 90’s - is hard to pro­ve... But I ha­ve ve­ry clear me­mo­ries of going to the sto­re All Ame­ri­can Boy in Chri­sto­pher Street in the 80’s and buy­ing black Le­vi’s, and the sa­le­sper­son said I was the fir­st girl who loo­ked good in them. I re­mem­ber that sto­re had ro­ws and ro­ws of co­lou­red T-shirts and po­lo shirts in eve­ry sha­de of eve­ry co­lour and stacks and stacks of Le­vi’s. It was the out­fit­ter of the clo­nes and I was ob­ses­sed with the­se co­des and the lan­gua­ge that hel­ped gay men iden­ti­fy their se­xual pre­fe­ren­ces. Eve­ry­thing was map­ped out. Le­sbian iden­ti­ty was still in hi­ding.

This shoot was about ta­king that boy and wat­ching him shut the door on so­me of tho­se de­si­res and in­vi­ta­tions.The jeans be­ca­me loo­ser, less tight, no mo­re ban­dan­nas, pro­te­st T-shirts, the who­le thing mor­phed in­to sur­vi­val clo­thing - and bo­dies be­ca­me bill­boards. I wan­ted to go back to whe­re I al­ways go: hu­stlers and co­w­boy kids on the piers, but then go with them to Gay Cen­ter whe­re the ones who we­re still ali­ve we­re fighting to stay ali­ve.

This is not the ty­pi­cal fa­shion shoot idea, but in ac­tua­li­ty a fa­shion shoot is the on­ly pla­ce whe­re one could talk about this tran­sfor­ma­tion. Sty­li­st Jo­die Bar­nes -bein­gc los e in age to­me-un der­stands that ti­me, and being a gay man he un­der­stands the pain and the loss. Like a foot­ball team, all the boys played and stood to­ge­ther. It was kind of ama­zing - gay and straight boys dan­cing and sit­ting to­ge­ther in our stu­dio - un­der­stan­ding their own re­la­tion­ship to a di­sea­se that is no lon­ger a gay pro­blem. It’s part of their li­fe. It’s now and it was then.”

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