“Visionaire first featured the designs of Lee Alexander McQueen in 1996 and since that time, he has been a continuous inspiration and a presence in Visionaire. McQueen’s special commissions are among our most treasured contributions. His daring designs and challenging ideas of fashion have consistently excited and provoked us.”
Stephen Gan, Cecilia Dean and James Kaliardos
Protected in a modernly-chic white box, the tri-annual fashion and art publication Visionaire has released its tribute to the life and work of late fashion designer and icon Lee Alexander McQueen. The issue includes a collection of photographs by Nick Knight, Lady Gaga, Steven Klein, Steven Meisel, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Mario Testino, Mario Sorrenti and more, each printed on a piece of pulp paper embedded with wildflower seeds that will actually blossom if you plant them, water them and give them enough sun. However, with its striking images and homage to a true fashion legacy, we don’t intend to plant the pages anytime soon. Plus, the case features a metalized brocade detail from the designer’s final collection. All in all, a very romantic collector’s piece.
Several years before issue 58 came to be (2003), Alexander “Lee” McQueen came to the Visionaire office to discuss collaborating on an issue that ultimately never happened. One day, the staff was discussing a potential issue printed on seeded paper, and the next day, news came that McQueen, one of the most brilliant creative minds of our time, had passed away. The team took this as a sign and dedicated SPIRIT to him. The issue set out to commemorate McQueen’s life and career by publishing the imagery that had defined it.
Kate Moss donned the famous bunny ears in a high-fashion editorial spread for the annual double issue. Photographed by famed photog duo Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, the fashion icon looks amazing while rocking the bustier suit and bunny ears — and in some shots she’s not wearing anything at all! Kate brought an air of style to the magazine for the anniversary celebration. Even in her nude shots, she looks incredibly glamorous and picturesque. She calls back memories of the original Playboy bunny Marilyn Monroe, with her sexy cat-eyes and ability to look oh-so-fabulous, even without any clothing on.
Kate looks great in just about any type of photo shoot, and she continues to prove her significance in the modeling world by covering Playboy magazine. Typically known for casting busty, tiny-waisted models and celebrities, it’s refreshing to see the magazine use Kate and her body on the cover — even though she is sometimes critiqued as “tomboyish.” While they might have used some garments to enhance Kate’s figure, her photos are meant to be more timeless and stylish than any typical spread for the publication; it’s for their 60th anniversary, after all! She looks so sultry in a black and white shot that shows the star topless, while sporting minimal makeup save for eyeliner — and her famous cheekbones look amazing in the photos.
No designer draws on religious themes to quite such glorious effect as Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci. Thus, it made perfect sense that Tisci came on board to guest-edit Visionaire’s 60th issue, RELIGION. Housed inside a distressed wood case lined in black Plexiglas, a book of images revealed Tisci’s world and the inspiration behind his work. Naturally, the works were loaded with symbolism, like a photo of Tisci suckling at the teat of Marina Abramovic — an image the performance artist says echoed the relationship between art and fashion. “When Riccardo was asked who I wanted to collaborate with,” Abramovic recalls, “I said the only thing I want is to collaborate with you. That was my ultimatum. I said to him, This is the situation: do you admit that fashion is inspired by art? Well I am the art, you are the fashion, now suck my tits! He’s very shy, so it took him a while to come around. But he did. During the shoot, I wanted to be in a state of mind as if I were delivering the emotions of the artist whose work is being used as inspiration—luminous yet strong. Art is giving. Art is nourishing. Art is oxygen to society. I was thinking what the title would be, and I thought of The Contract.” For Tisci, it was an opportunity to meditate on his past and present. “Visionaire was a truly important moment of reflection for me,” he says. “This collection of work celebrates inner truths, inner dialogues, and moments which words cannot quantify.”
Riccardo Tisci explores “religion as liberating force, complete with its share of saints, sinners, and supermodels.” However vaguely Tisci sees his own faith, his Visionaire is Catholic with a capital C, featuring eye-popping imagery that turns a millennium of European art on its head. Housed in an unfolding wooden case that nods to the great tradition of the altarpiece, the issue doesn’t scrimp on saints, including Carine Roitfeld, appropriately venerated in a series of haunting portraits by Karl Lagerfeld. (“Religion is anything you believe in,” the Chanel designer offers.)
The rest of the issue is an exuberant visual tribute to religious tropes. The Madonna and Child are revisited by Mario Sorrenti, and while she’s not exactly Rubenesque, there’s a certain minimalist serenity about her that beguiles. Paolo Canevari and Francesco Carrozzini canonize Franca Sozzani, complete with a Giotto-like halo, while Tisci’s house model, Lea T, is reimagined by Giovanna Battaglia and Pierpaolo Ferrari as a beautiful veiled martyr in Renaissance-style couture. The Son then comes into his own as Danko and Ana Steiner and Jared Buckheister rework the crucifixion, mounting Jesus on—or is it at—a lectern. Some of the pictures are slightly less tranquil. The shoot by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott of Lara Stone bound in ropes beside a burning cross conjures both Saint Joan and Mississippi Burning. But perhaps the most indelible image is that of Tisci suckling at the breast of Marina Abramovic, a woman who knows a thing or two about suffering for belief.
Contrary to current popular belief, the Latin or “Passion” cross was not a Christian emblem from the beginning. It was not assimilated into the Christian religion until the seventh century A.C., and was not fully authorized until the ninth century. Primitive churches preferred to represent Christ by the figure of a lamb, or else a “Good Shepherd” carrying a lamb, in the conventional manner of Hermes and Osiris. In several places the New Testament says that Jesus was hanged on a tree, not a cross (Acts 5:30; 1 Peter 2:24) and some sects believed this tree to be literal, not metaphorical.
This would have envisioned Jesus rather closer to such tree-slain savior figures as Krishna, Marsyas, Odin and Dodonian Zeus.
Some early Christian fathers specifically repudiated the Latin cross on the ground that it was a pagan symbol. On a coin of Gallienus, it appeared as the scepter of Apollo. On the Damietta stone, it set off the words “Ptolemy the Savior”. According to the Greeks, this cross signified “the life to come” in the Egyptian religion of Sarapis.
Once the Latin cross was accepted by Christianity, all kind of pious nonsense began to accrete around the symbol. It was claimed, for example, that the very wood of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden had been preserved by Adam and all the patriarchs after him, in order to be fashioned into Jesus’ cross – for Jesus was declared the second or reincarnated Adam designed to correct the fault of the first one.
Photos: Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott.
Client: Love magazine, issue #6. Fall/Winter 2011
Fashion Editor/Stylist: Katie Grand
Set Designer: Gerard Santos
Make-up Artist: Lucia Pieroni
Models: Maria Carla Boscono, Saskia de Braw, Kristen McMenamy, Anais Pouliot, Guinevere Seenus, Paul Boche, Xiao Wen Ju, Jed Texas and Angus Whitehead.
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