SYNESTHETIC VISIONS BY COLLIDE
Laura Mendera & Oumayma El Boumeshouli
Words by Maria Pigatto
COLLIDE is raising antennas – we are opening our eyes to decoding the contemporary narration and selecting the most ingenious, cutting-edge protagonists in the Industry. Believing that all human nuances must be exalted, we aim to move the conversation forward.
STREET CASTING, THE OPENING TOWARDS MULTIPLICITY
The body and face, considered more and more as the biographical, heterogeneous and daily aspect of society, evolve as a tool for the construction of the creative narrative.
We are witnessing a change with respect to the aesthetic paradigms involved in the choice of characters destined to be portrayed in fashion. The role of street casting in recent years has solidified, in virtue of the departure from the phallogocentric and eurocentric ideals. The advancement of a redefinition with respect to subjectivity therefore now needs new faces through whom to be represented. The first fashion imagery known to us date back to 1850, at the court of Napoleon III in Paris. It was from 1900, when fashion could be experienced by a wider audience, that such photography became an advertising tool. The scouting intended to give a voice to the imagination of fashion that was emerging in this period, while publications as Harper’s Bazaar in 1867 and VOGUE in 1892 launched. A large number of bodies and faces that responded to precise morphological parameters began to be selected to meet the needs of fashion houses; it was the start of decades promoting a certain ideal that could stimulate to be desired by the public. Gia Carangi’s face on the cover of VOGUE UK in April 1979, as well as on VOGUE US in August 1980, reflected a very specific persona: thin, young, cisgender, white. Likewise, Tatjana Patitz, adorning many covers of magazines including that of ELLE in March 1989, showcased a figure that needed to be emulated, a body to which admiration should be addressed, because it was by then stipulated as the only able to wear that garment. On the Gianni Versace runway for the Fall/Winter 1991-1992 collection, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford walked together during the song Freedom! by George Michael; it was a moment in which the pursuit of appearance was reaffirmed and that redefined the concept of the fashion show, making it spectacular and using the excitement generated in the direction of a greater allegiance to that ideal.
About ten years ago, scouting changed because the needs of the fashion and – in general – the creative Industry evolved: the growth of the digital realm and social media have pushed brands to start creating content from a perspective useful to attract viewers of this new type of communication. As a result, the casting process has focused more and more on looking for people who are able to tell their story, to express their personal experience; fashion communication no longer puts most of its attention on the featured product, though shifts to the subject captured. The bodies and faces in photography and film began to document the shattering of aesthetic and behavioral norms previously in force. Today, in fact, there is not per se a dominant typology of person, nor a physical standard to which the public can refer when using media. Striving for full inclusivity and diversity is still an ongoing process, though the one-sided reflection seems to be faded and made a transformation to a more relatable representation of modern society.
For Gucci Spring/Summer 2021, Alessandro Michele stepped into cinema and partnered with director Gus Van Sant. Ouverture Of Something That Never Ended is a seven-episode film released online on November 16th, 2020. The cast was chosen not per se because on their technical and acting skills, though for their particular allure as well as for their unique physicality. They are figures capable of occupying a space in an authentic way, far from adhering to parameters as hold on to through the last two centuries.
Also in the selection of the models for the latest collections of Collina Strada, Hillary Taymour took a direction that deviates from the past. In fact, involved in the Spring/Summer 2022 show is her niece, her partner and their sibling. The entire casting was based on acquaintances of Taymour and those to whom she had a familiair relationship with; the idea of community and therefore the specific way in which these people walk, even together, proves useful for her creative approach.
For the Sunnei Spring/Summer 2020 campaign, Loris Messina and Simone Rizzo, fully relied on street casting; photographed by Andrea Artemisio, it was the way of portraying the characters side by side that almost enhanced the spontaneous diversity of their attitude and the intimate use they made of their corporeality. In this context, the subjects, far from corresponding to aesthetic norms defined by a unitary and eurocentric perimeter, focussed on their own gestures and behavioral characteristics.
In September 2020 Riccardo Tisci hosted choreographer Anne Imhof to bring his vision to life with Burberry’s In Bloom Spring/Summer 2021 collection, together creating a show in which Eliza Douglas sang. Her style was already remarkable in the performance Faust held in the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2017 and got to the attention of Tisci, who admired her for her artistic skills, though also saw in her square face, muscular physique, androgynous appearance the embodiment of the brands values as renewed by him. Their collaboration affirmed the ‘new language’ emerging in the creative area, that at the same time redefined the casting process. The presence of Douglas is still solid within the fashion scene these days, as evidenced with her contribution to the narrative of Demna Gvasalia for the presentation of the Balenciaga Clones Spring/Summer 2022 collection, in which each look is seen on her, confirming once again how the values of historical fashion houses have grown, while hybridizing their identity and questioning themselves on urgent issues, such as – preventing from – the creation of a world of digital clones.
Obviously the conformity to a biased idea that was once predominant for fashion, moved from an asynchronous and ambiguity perspective, recognizing the human facets that inhabit contemporary society; media represent this plurality now more realistic and embrace those who have a story to tell. The choices made by designers and editors witness the importance for the fashion realm of communicating using persona able to express its values. Each face and body that is selected is exalted in its own aesthetic, behavioral and experiential uniqueness. What the fashion and creative Industry is experiencing is the paradigmatic shift that concerns the model’s figure, which passes from object to subject.
Gucci Spring/Summer 2021 https://www.gucci.com/us/en/st/stories/runway/article/guccifest-ouverture-of-something-that-never-happened
Collina Strada Spring/Summer 2022 https://collinastrada.com/
Sunnei Spring/Summer 2020 https://sunnei.it/blogs/news/spring-summer-2020-campaign-by-andrea-artemisio /
Burberry Spring/Summer 2021 https://www.burberryplc.com/en/news/corporate/2020/-in-bloom–burberry-spring-summer-2021-show-.html
Balenciaga Spring/Summer 2022 https://www.balenciaga.com/en-us/spring-22