DEFINING THE ART OF FASHION: JANE BIRKIN / GUCCI-MARIO TESTINO S/S 2003 / COCO CHANEL
As we look forward to Fashion Week S/S 2015 we’ve created Defining The Art Of Fashion, a series celebrating the models, designers, photographers, brand campaigns and collections that have changed the face and culture of the fashion industry.
Jane Birkin has influenced millions of people — models, designers, musicians, photographers, and creatives alike. Although not technically a model, Birkin was one of the defining fashion icons of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. She was known for crossing cultural boundaries, solidifying her place in fashion history. The daughter of a war hero, Birkin was an English-born, bohemian, chic pop-singer who captivated not only fans but entire industries. In the mid-80s, Hermes, cemented Birkin into fashion iconography when they dawned her name on one of the most coveted bags in the world: the Birkin bag. A renaissance woman of sorts, music and taste in clothes weren’t her only traits; she could act too, and well. At the age of 19 starred in the French cult classic Blow Up in 1969, stirring both controversy and public intrigue when she appeared in the film nearly nude. Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, the orgasmic fashion film was dubbed to the heavy-breathing, JeT’Aime.
Birkin can perhaps be most visually remembered for her relationship with french musician Serge Gainsbourg in the 1970’s. Most recently she directed a film and has become an outspoken proponent of democracy in Burma. Birkin also continues to write and record new music.
GUCCI S/S 2003 / MARIO TESTINO
Gucci shocked the fashion industry over a decade ago with this Mario Testino ad campaign for their S/S collection. The collection, called Pubic Enemy, was displayed in Vogue’s February 2003 issue. Criticized for its vulgarity and vile degradation of women, the ad’s controversy was front page news.
But honestly, it’s brilliant: How many fashion houses could get away with such a bold visual statement, while also incorporating both a sexual message and a brand’s logo? Yes, it’s highly sexual, and yes the imagery is graphic, but if anything the man in this photo is the degraded one.
Think about it: he’s on his knees, givingher pleasure instead of the other way around. The ‘G’ has a double meaning in this situation – the name Gucci, and the photo name ‘G-Spot.’ Using the female sexual slang term and the Gucci brand name in an advertisement to show how the clothing company creates nearly orgasm-inducing pleasure for its clients seems brilliant. But in a time where sex is so prominent on media online and on television, it still doesn’t sit well with society at large. Creative people create things, they push themselves, as well as ideas and what they are capable of as artists. We applaud Mario Testino for pushing boundaries and Gucci for putting their name behind an idea, regardless of society’s views.
COCO CHANEL / CHANEL
Possibly the most influential designer in the last century, Coco Chanel (born Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel) had a vision and aesthetic that remains alive and well today in young designers and creatives minds around the world. Along with partner Paul Poriet, Coco Chanel created Chanel, a clothing house that defined ‘casual chic’ better than any other in the post-World War I era. Freeing women from the ‘corseted silhouette’ and creating a brand that moved beyond couture clothing, Chanel’s signature items (even today) include jewelry, handbags, and fragrances; who could forget the prolifically iconic Chanel No. 5?
Ambition, determination, and drive set Chanel apart from her competitors and peers, achieving professional and social success throughout her life. Today designer Karl Lagerfeld carries on Coco’s legacy, who in his own right has furthered the standards set by his muse and predecessor.