Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Make me a Zimmermann model

Frockwriter mentioned that newly repatriated sex bomb Lisa Seiffert would be shooting the SS10 campaign for stellar Australian swim label Zimmermann this week. But hot diggity dog, if US Make Me A Supermodel model mentor, imminent NIDA student and newbie jeweller Nicole Trunfio isn't in the campaign as well. As it happens, Trunfio, like Seiffert, recently defected from Sydney’s Viviens agency to Chic Management. This behind-the-scenes shot from the shoot popped up in frockwriter’s inbox today. Photographer was Simon Lekias, with New York import art director Louisa Gent, stylist Tamila Purvis, Sophie Roberts on hair and Linda Jefferies on makeup. Anyone in and around Sydney’s Hamptons northern beaches over summer, meanwhile, should definitely pop in to Zimmermann's popup store at Whale Beach. Supremely cool idea for a summer store.


McQueen's shoes weren't meant for walking - Abbey Lee Kershaw

daniel jackson for dazed+confused via chic

Had a chat to Abbey Lee Kershaw Monday afternoon while she was working in Sydney. The details of the shoot are yet to be revealed, but I can share one of the more amusing model gossip gems to surface. When talking about how models navigate the runway in increasingly ludicrous designer shoes, we touched on the so-called 'armadillo' shoes from Alexander McQueen's S/S 2010 show (below). Wonder why we didn't see Kershaw, Sasha Pivovarova or Natasha Poly in the show? According to Kershaw, that's because after taking one look at the shoes, the supermod trio convened for a powow and decided to nix it.

alexander mcqueen SS10/style.com

With killer heels already causing one catwalk catastrophe for Kershaw at Rodarte in New York last September, followed by another near miss with similarly extreme shoes in February this year - the latter prompting her to skip the rest of the FW0910 season in order to nurse a knee injury - little wonder she was loathe to take the risk.

And all that's not counting, of course, the too-tight corset at McQueen's SS09 show one year earlier in Paris, in which Kershaw fainted.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Swim Fashion Week axed

swim fashion week SS09/IMG

In what is no doubt some extremely sad news for the Australian swimwear sector, the sophomore edition of IMG's new swimwear showcase, Swim Fashion Week, has been axed. The event was due to take place at Sanctuary Cove on Queensland's Gold Coast from February 23-26 2010. According to The Gold Coast Bulletin, the event collapsed after it failed to receive backing from Queensland Events. Why the organisation was not locked in for a multi-year arrangement remains to be seen.

Hedi Christmas

A short film by Hedi Slimane, created for V Man and starring - who else but - a beautiful, half-naked, excruciatingly skinny 16 year-old boy. In this case, Oscar Nilsson from the Royal Danish Ballet Company. Apparently still an 'apprentice' with the company, perhaps Nilsson was scouted during one of Slimane's infamous "boy safaris".

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Guess who's back in town?

the fashion spot

Frockwriter last looked at Lisa Seiffert in October 2008, on the occasion of her topless cover of Danish art magazine S. We noted at the time that since Seiffert departed these shores, she has specialised in the sultry sex bomb niche. That’s a niche, of course, that’s not without its rewards, notably if you can land a Victoria’s Secret campaign. But Seiffert’s most prominent gigs to date have merely seen her hanging off the arms of various male pop stars in video clips. From Robbie Williams' 2001 hit The Road to Mandalay and Eternity to Jay-Z & Pharrel´s 2004 Change Clothes. And not forgetting Sean Combs’ racy ménage à trois clip for his 2006 Unforgivable men’s fragrance – reportedly banned by US broadcasting authorities for tv, with the print ads also reportedly banned by some US department stores. A Sisley campaign with Terry Richardson and the 2003 Pirelli calendar, alongside Sienna Miller, were also in the mix.

A far cry, as we noted, from the demure Vogue Australia September 1998 cover with fellow Queenslander Alyssa Sutherland.

Well now Seiffert and Sutherland have something else in common. Seiffert has just joined Chic Management in Sydney – having apparently ditched Viviens.

Seiffert has not worked in Australia for four years, but tomorrow shoots an editorial with Madison magazine and next week, a swimwear campaign with hot Australian swim brand Zimmermann.

According to Chic, Seiffert has also just shot a global campaign for Guess swimwear and lingerie in LA.

It will be interesting to see what happens from here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Those who make passes at girls who wear glasses: the great Danny Roberts ripoff

danny roberts/wwd (top) dolce e gabbana/swide

Frockwriter has written about up-and-coming LA fashion illustrator Danny Roberts on several occasions. In August, I also profiled him for WWD, with the online version accompanied by a gallery of 21 images. Roberts' distinctive, expressionistic model caricatures are rapidly gaining currency across the net, via his Igor + Andre blog and his various fashion collabs. To wit, Roberts' 'Girls in Glasses' T-shirt, adapted from his mixed media painting based on Chanel's Spring 2007 collection and launched in April through London-based e-tailer Borders & Frontiers, seems to be a runaway hit. Several hundred units have been sold, with the shirt popping up in magazines, on punters on the Lookbook.nu auto street style site and on several high profile bloggers. Not counting a suite of knockoffs.

Given the song and dance that Italian luxury brand Dolce e Gabbana made about bloggers in Milan in September, seating several high-profilers front and centre at its main line show, you might assume that Dolce e Gabbana would be commissioning art directly from any bloggers whose work the company admires.

Although Roberts has yet to do any work for Dolce e Gabbana, there are nevertheless some remarkable similarities between this image, above, that was recently done by an in-house artist to illustrate sunglasses on Dolce e Gabbana's Swide website and Roberts' 'Girls in Glasses' illustration.

Meanwhile, here is the original Girls in Glasses T-shirt, below, as worn by (top to bottom) Fashion Toast's Rumi Neely, Les Mads' Jessie Weiss and Le Blog de Betty's Betty Autier.

And here are a few knockoffs:

1, 2: screen grabs yesstyle.com
3: ebay
4,5,6: screen grabs supplied by Danny Roberts

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cassi van den Dungen - two steps closer to her model dream

camerons via TO2W

OK so where were we on the Tahnee Atkinson/Cassi van den Dungen/Australia's Next Top Model roundabout? Atkinson has just shot the Curvy jeans campaign for Bettina Liano. After losing the Cycle 5 ANTM crown to Atkinson and flipping the bird to the show by turning down contracts with Priscillas and Elite New York, van den Dungen, meanwhile, signed with her childhood modelling agency, Tanya Powell, in Melbourne, then also with Work Agency in Sydney, before shooting lookbooks for Portmans and getting bullied by ANTM’s Charlotte Dawson and Alex Perry. Coupla interesting updates. Apart from currently being plastered all over Portmans front windows, van den Dungen has finally ditched Tanya Powell for Camerons, a boutique - but nevertheless far more serious-looking - Melbourne agency. Most interesting of all: she has just been featured on The Ones To Watch, models.com’s emerging talent satellite site.

In a profile on December 1, TO2W noted:
“Cassi is sensational – her features, her height and her personality all combine to make one super model who is creating interest all over the world. With building a strong book her priority right now, expect to see Cassi on the global fashion scene by mid-2010”.

Fascinating contrast to the prediction by ANTM model mentor Charlotte Dawson, who told her Facebook friends back in July:
“I think Cassi's only going to end up being the poster girl for Sunbury Centrelink”.

Meanwhile, although Tahnee Atkinson reports that she was recently told in New York that she would need to lose weight in order to work in that market (with Atkinson telling Today Tonight last week, "But I'm prepared to do that to go to New York"), van den Dungen told News Ltd that one of the reasons she rejected the Priscillas/Elite contracts was out of concern that she would need to lose weight to work internationally. Which NL duly whipped up into the headline:

"Australia's Next Top Model's Cassi van den Dungen rejected New York deal over weight issues"

Without having set foot beyond Sydney however, she is looking rather thin in this new set of test shots.

Friday, December 4, 2009

First look at Tahnee Atkinson in Bettina Liano's new Curvy jean on TT

Two weeks ago frockwriter revealed that Bettina Liano was about to launch a more amply-cut jean - notably up to a size 16 - and that she had booked Australia's Next Top Model Cycle 5 winner Tahnee Atkinson to promote it. Pierre Toussaint shot the new campaign on Monday and Today Tonight was there. The story went to air last night. I produced/wrote, Sally Obermeder is the reporter, Ray Munro edited.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Sunday Telegraph: The disturbing trend of model deaths

daul kim, backstage @ alexander mcqueen SS08

On November 20th I - along with many others - blogged about the very sad news of the death of South Korean model Daul Kim. The news was all the more alarming by virtue of the fact that Kim's was not an isolated death in the modelling industry - or indeed suicide. As regular readers of this blog would be aware, I have been tracking some of these stories over the past twelve months. Sydney's Sunday Telegraph newspaper asked me to develop the post into a small feature (which they titled "Dying for success"). Many thanks to models.com's Wayne Sterling, Sophie Ward and Vikki Graham for availing themselves for interviews at short notice. Here's the story (which ran last weekend):

THE fashion industry has been rocked by the death of top South Korean model Daul Kim, the latest in what has emerged as a disturbing trend of model suicides over the past 18 months.

The 20 year old was found hanged in her Paris apartment on November 19th, the third model suicide since June 28 2008, when Kazakh model Ruslana Korshunova, also 20, died after falling nine floors from her apartment building in New York.

On October 11 2008, 26 year-old Canadian Hayley Kohle fell seven floors to her death from an apartment building in Milan.

Although Kohle was one of many virtual unknowns struggling to make names for themselves in a fiercely competitive business, both Korshunova and notably, Kim, had achieved far greater success, securing magazine covers and lucrative advertising contracts.

And yet both Korshunova and Kim also left a trail of social networking site posts behind them talking about heartbreak, loneliness and depression, with Kim already once having to defend her mental state on her two year-old blog I Like To Fork Myself.

On October 11, just one month before she died, Kim even used the terms “cut ur wrists”, “jump out a window” and “cry for help” in a blog post called “Say hi to decided”.

“The industry is definitely in shock over the news of Daul Kim's suicide” said Wayne Sterling, a prominent New York casting director and the editorial director of the website models.com, whose closely-followed world rankings of models are considered the industry’s unofficial benchmark. “People are asking...How could we have missed the signals? There have been a lot of tears and some guilt about all of our superficial assumptions”.

But the suicides are part of a wider pattern of recent model deaths that have many asking about the hidden risks and dangers of an industry that remains largely self-regulated.

Not counting the eating disorder-related deaths of three South American models in 2006, which reignited the Size 0 debate and prompted a raft of industry initiatives, on July 7 last year Canadian Diana O’Brien was murdered while on assignment in China.

Then on October 11, coincidentally the same night that Hayley Kohle died, 20 year-old male American modeling star Randy Johnston died from a heroin overdose in Connecticut.

“We all have to accept that yes there is a serious problem” said Sterling.

“Common decency now would demand that designers, editors, photographers and agents should address signs of depression and fatigue and stress in young models as clear problems that could amplify with tragic implications” he added. “We're dealing with human beings here, not inanimate mannequins”.

Speculation is currently focused on the mental health of Australian modeling star Catherine McNeil, who was photographed last week in Sydney with a series of mysterious cuts on her arms.

McNeil’s mother contradicted the official statement from Australian agency Chic Management, that the cuts were the result of a skateboard fall, by stating her daughter fell down stairs and has also been “depressed”, with McNeil’s grandmother adding that Catherine is “burned out” by the industry.

Chic Management declined comment for this story on either McNeil or Daul Kim. Chic’s New York affiliate Next Models was Kim’s American agency.

"This was the tipping point - enough is enough now" said Australian model and author Sophie Ward of Kim's death.

Ward has experienced the modeling rollercoaster both first-hand and through the eyes of her sister Gemma Ward who, by early 2007, had risen to the world number 1 position, before disappearing from the business altogether following a segue into acting and the January 2008 death of close friend Heath Ledger.

“Without a strong sense of identity, I think it's very easy to lose oneself in the demands of a million people, and forget who you even were to start with” said Ward. “Yes I went through dark stages of existential doubt but I wouldn't call it depression, it didn't last as long”.

“Of course my family were vital, but you can't survive in a hotel room with just a telephone, or a blog. You need many voices, many hands, all around you, to get your mind off those pressures, and enjoy life".

Sydney’s Scene Models director Vikki Graham conceded that although she believes agents are not therapists, the size and pressures of the business and the speed of communications have helped depersonalize the industry.

“Models don’t come into the agency like they used to before, now every model’s got a BlackBerry - but a BlackBerry doesn’t tell you whether they’re feeling down in the dumps” said Graham, who also believes agents should be both aware if there are personal issues affecting a model’s work and prepared to cancel jobs.

“They’re not machines” she added. “There are times when they can’t do a job. The model has to take priority over the booking”.

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