Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Perez Hilton

I had no idea my grandma was a fashion designer... that was a long, long time ago. Of course, like any other design field, there are many categories and levels for fashion. Just like there are cars for different budgets and needs, some are just stylish, some are useful, some are neither. If it was for me, there will only be black or plain colours, and minimal decor... and of course no seasonal styles. But I do understand that would be just me.

We have watched some of the "cycles" of ANTM. Maybe because there's nothing better to watch on a friday evening, maybe because we like the show. I'm guessing that followers of the show watch with different eyes. My father (as a commercial/advertising photographer) hated to take pictures of models, but sometimes he had to do it. I met some top mexican celebrities, and also unknown models that came to my father's studio... and he was right, it is a very superficial milieu. Anyway, for me, it is fun and interesting to see the photoshoot challenges, hear what the art director is telling the girls, etc. Probably because I've been there, it's actually educational to watch how the model wannabes have to learn about their dream job. Stop! Did I say "learn"?

Yes, they have to learn the sometimes sutile, sometimes bold difference between commercial, editorial, men's magazine, high-fashion, etc. Those are totally different markets, so the "design brief" for each one has to be specific for that market. Let's put it in simple words... although the design process of a can-opener and a car, may have similar phases: brief, analysis, drawings, selection, prototyping, etc... they are quite different in how they are actually carried out, for starters: they are quite different products! It's the same story with fashion: there's a design brief determining the target market, the trends and material analysis, etc, etc. So the models should be able to understand and adjust to what the art director wants, they are just (literally) part of the whole picture. They have to be versatile enough to fit into many looks, but they must understand that sometimes their look does not work for a certain job. Anyway, despite any controversy about ANTM, it is quite clear that during the contest, the girls get a lot of preparation to learn at least some basics.

Last friday was the final episode of New Zealand's Next Top Model. We only watched the first, and the last episode in full, and no more than 5 minutes of some episodes in between. I was so disappointed after the first episode... because the selection was terrible. Racist may sound a bit too hard, and they probably put a black girl to avoid remarks like that (however, that's not at all representative of the NZ ethnic mix) They failed to have girls with Chinese, Indian or even Maori ethnicity. I hate "ethnic quotas" in politics, scholarships, or job opportunities, but the casting selection seemed to me like it was done by only one person, and all girls looked the same (even after their makeover)... as if it was to suit a very specific kind of look. They had octuplets, plus the sisters, plus the black girl. I was obvious that one of the octuplets would win.

I mentioned that it is interesting to co-learn on ANTM, but there was nothing, nothing to learn on NZNTM. The photographers were terrible, just (look at these examples: glamour (I probably take better pictures of Sandra), boxing (the photographer forgot to hide the fog machine), face paint (looks to me like those you get at a city fair or a children's party and not high fashion at all), bachellor of the year (the art director was probably somewhere else taking a leak during that photoshoot), aviation (I'm telling you, they all look exactly the same... ) To be fair, there are two decent photoshoots : emotions, and beach. The co-host was like they said in a movie: "almost too queer to function", they had no practical advise for the girls... the main host, Sara Tetro, dressed like a "governess" out of Sound of Music (institutriz) and not like a top model, the camera and editing of the program was like the PC movie editing: Horrible! and many, many details that made the programe unwatchable.

nzntmSara's words when the judges deliberated about the winner: "Fashion is a subjective industry". Well, excuse me, but if she really thinks like that, she shouldn't be hosting and judging... that's a quite ignorant comment. There's nothing subjective about fashion, or about aesthetics, or about art, or about design. People who beleive that, probably heard it throughout their lives, and they just repeat that idea, because they don't know any better. It's like when we refer to something as "is not rocket science" implying that rocket science may be too difficult for any normal mortal to understand. Like I said previously, as any other industry, fashion has many levels, markets, styles, cultures, materials, and elements. It would be difficult to standarize any idea to fit all... in other words, there are sports cars, utility cars, family cars, economic cars, eco cars, SUV's, collection cars... and each went through unique design brief descriptions, different aesthetic choices, different production techniques, different styles. That's why we cannot describe the aesthetic or the functionality of a car with just one example to fit everyone. The same in the fashion industry. So, just because it is complex, or there are many different options, it doesn't mean it is subjective... subjective is a close synonim to arbitrary, and there's nothing arbitrary about any industry when it comes to making money.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention that the Top Model's Mansion was previously owned by a Drug Lord and bought later by one of his friends. I'm guessing the "Next Mexican Top Model" could be in the so called "Narco Zoologico". Some final thoughts about the world of modelling: read (or watch) about Sara Ziff's exposee "Picture Me", a documentary about the real world of teenage models and "fashion" predators.

Next week: The Simpson's HD season, not just "worst episode ever" but "worst season ever".

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