Sunday, August 1, 2010

Abbey Lee Kershaw helps glamorize model suicides for a South Korean fashion brand
Frockwriter can't help thinking this is the kind of PR that David Jones doesn’t need but hey, don’t shoot us. Abbey Lee Kershaw, one of the retailer's high profile ringins who is due to fill in for newlywed Miranda Kerr at Tuesday’s fashion showcase, has arrived in town looking like a rock star, with a genuine rockstar in tow - her boyfriend, Our Mountain frontman Matthew Hutchinson. Coinciding with Kershaw’s arrival comes news of a short film made by American photographer Ryan McGinley for a South Korean fashion brand. The film depicts Kershaw fleeing some unidentified adversary by climbing to the top of a building and jumping off – several times, to show the fall in slomo in various outfits. Frockwriter is waiting to hear back from Kershaw’s agents and McGinley. In the interim, it’s worth noting that South Korea has the highest female suicide rate in the OECD. The country’s most high profile modelling export, Daul Kim, committed suicide eight months ago (although not by jumping), part of an alarming new trend of model suicides – most of them by jumping. (UPDATE 02/08: Twenty-four hours later, the only party we had managed to reach was Chic Management in Sydney, which reported it has "no information". UPDATE 04/08: Abbey Lee Kershaw reveals the inspiration for the video was Alice in Wonderland).

In the absence of any further information, this is what we found out about the video.

It was uploaded three days ago by a South Korean YouTube member called WM0114. The only information provided is the Lewitt brand name at the end of the video.

A quick net search produced the South Korean domain name and the still of Kershaw, above, from the same campaign.

The domain was registered by Michaa, apparently another Korean fashion brand. The latter's current face is high profile Canadian model Coco Rocha, so obviously the company has a big budget.

Lewitt, one might assume, is a Michaa sub brand. 

The jumper is a common enough cinematic theme. 

Central to the storyline of Christopher Nolan's new blockbuster Inception, for example, is a scene in which Marion Cotillard's character throws herself off a building - in a bid to wake herself up from a dream. Ellen Page's character does the same thing in another scene. One of them isn't dreaming however and winds up dead.

South Korea has a rich history of horror - like neighbour Japan, home to The Ring, The Grudge and the Dark Water film franchises.  
In December, while interviewing Kershaw for Today Tonight, we did attempt to ask her about Daul Kim and the model suicide trend, but she immediately passed on the question, saying she didn't want to talk about the subject. 

No idea whether or not Kim was a personal friend of Kershaw's. But if so, or if she knew any of the other (numerous) models to have recently jumped to their deaths, such as Ruslana Korshunova or Tom Nicon, it's kind of hard to imagine her going anywhere near this video. 

The McGinley/Lewitt film follows the recent release of City Limits, a short - and highly stylised and satirical - spoof starring Australian model Tanja Gacic, that was directed by Kris Moyes for Sydney fashion brand Romance Was Born. 

Here is McGinley's film and a few screen caps.

***Any readers in need of support and information about suicide prevention should contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, SANE Helpline on 1800 18 SANE (7263) or***


Emma said...

reminds me a bit of those infamous Superette ads that were around Auckland last year.

Jehh said...

This is horrific. I am so against everything to do with suicides. If you read my RIP Tom post, you'll understand why.

People honestly have to stop doing this to someone else. They need to be visiting the intensive care unit at hospitals to knock some serious sense into their lives.

this makes me so disappointed.

I'd never be able to watch this, especially since it's kershaw in it.

hyun said...

Your pseudo reportage is just brilliant. You are indeed suited to work for "current affairs" programs. You have a great tendency to talk about nothing for a great amount of time and then continue to give the illusion that nothing is something. I watched Today Tonight religiously when I was 6. And then I realised it was all bullshit and moved on to watch some real news. I love how you "investigate" like a fashion hero. Model suicides are indeed alarming seeing as they're nowhere near the top in the suicide statistics list. Wasn't dentistry at the top? Why don't you do a crackdown on that?
The Ring and The Grudge franchises are actually Japanese. But lets talk about something relevant for once! I am South Korean and would like to add that Korea has the highest plastic surgery rate and lowest birth rate. Why don't you do a crackdown on that too? oops, got irrelevant again.
But for some constructive critisism, I think your writing needs a lot of work. You really don't get anywhere with such a large amount of text. My advice is that you swich careers to something like accounting. I don't care if you don't care, I don't care if you've worked for Harper's or Vogue or fucked whoever. I'm still in highschool and it really didn't take long for me to see how full of bullshit your work is.
Keep faking your importance! Censor my comment! Do whatever the fuck you like!

Patty Huntington said...

yes too true, apologies, my careless oversight - and i've seen the original ring and grudge. have updated the post. but k-horror is definitely a (growing) cinema genre.

as for censorship, get a grip. it's not north korea in here.

Anonymous said...

"One of them isn't dreaming however and winds up dead."

I wouldn't be so sure she wasn't dreaming...

Anonymous said...

I saw this video earlier today and at no point did I consider it had a suicide theme.

If she was running away from an adversary, then couldn't the leap be interpreted as an escape? Running away from someone chasing you, then consciously jumping to your own death...somehow I can't see those 2 themes going together.

Also, we never see her land - much like Thelma and Louise - so I think the ending is up to interpretation. I actually imagined that she had landed on the ground and escaped.

For me, this is just a series of images with a beautiful Abbey showing of a range of clothes in a highly stylised way.

I can see the poster image could be interpreted in a rather grotesque way, but you may notice that this image is taken from a scene in the film prior to the leap.

I wonder if you're reading too much into this video Patty, but I do appreciate your thoughts on it.

kirstyb said...

completely irrelevant to your post, but just saw the date and had no idea that it was August - when did this happen? where has the year gone? x

Anonymous said...

god patty
this is another one of those lame attempts to drum a story out of thin air. your credibility as a fashion journalist is falling as fast as those girls that keep on jumping to their deaths

Patty Huntington said...

you mean all those previous lame attempts to drum stories out of thin air that were done first on this blog and were then subsequently picked up by the following news outlets (among innumerable other blogs)?

the sydney morning herald
the sunday telegraph
the daily telegraph
the herald sun
the west australian
the courier mail
seven network
nine network
ten network
the independent on sunday (uk)
the telegraph (uk)
the times of london (uk)
grazia (uk)
the national post (canada)
the new york times
corriere della serra (italy)
the huffington post (us)
new york magazine
blackbook magazine (us)
jezebel (us)


Anonymous said...

David Jones were obviously bringing in the model big guns to overshadow a looming sexual harassment case... but they have just been shut down in the afternoon news with the girl in question, going public, on the eve of the catwalk show.

Strategic PR at its best: timed for maximum effect against the company that hoped her story would go away, if they sent the slimeball away. Sorry Abbey Lee, Cat Mac etc Its all anyone will be thinking about as you strut the catwalk.

Anonymous said...

This film is in really bad taste.

For the people thinking Patty is drumming out a story of thin air, you're fucking stupid - the character is clearly committing suicide at the end of the clip.

AND if that wasn't what they had in mind - they are fucking stupid.

Although this is fashion after all so the latter may hold merit.

Anonymous said...

Hey there Pats,
you're not not a respectable news source, you just happen to show up on google. All those news outlets "pick-up" stories from Wikipedia as well as your awesome blog of integral honour.
Really just shows the quality of contemporary news media. And you've shown me that modern journalism is a shocker.
Abbey Lee is obviously advocating non-lethal jumping (how else would those outfit changes work?!)
And please stop talking about yourself and Catherine Horyn as if you're anywhere near her level of work.

Anonymous said...

Give Frocky a break.

Any model would commit a fake suicide for money.

14 yr old Abbey fans... R.E.L.A.X!

Anonymous said...

The video exploits the devastation of suicide, by pairing it with the beauty of high fashion. As a culture, think of all the things we love, semi-grotesque, yet still beautiful. We love being voyeurs; we can’t turn away from those images. It may not be so much that this video makes suicide sexy, as it questions what we believe as a culture to be beautiful. No matter how big a train wreck it may actually be.

Anonymous said...

This is disgusting! Shame on Abbey for accepting the job and even more shame on her agency for letting her do something that sends such a horrid message.
Imagine the uproar if were for a diet pill/program and the imagery were of a girl about to self inducing vomiting?
Using suicide as an obvious theme in a country with that high rate of female suicides to sell clothes the lowest form of advertising I have ever seen. I hope that in Korea it gets a lot of negative press and people black ban Lewitt.

lol said...

Actually, McGinley has done jumping shots before (re: Agyness Deyn for POP magazine), so that's why I personally found no connection to a suicide theme when I watched it. Must be a slow day at the news office.. It just seems like since the pieces fit, you ran the story, that coincidentally enough, it is a Korean brand and the video shows a model jumping, to what looks like her death (though, not really). If this were any other brand, you wouldn't be insinuating the same thing, right? loooool this is a pointless story, just bummed it got onto for more people to see.

Patty Huntington said...

hi "lol" -

firstly, there is nothing remotely funny about this subject. suicide is a very serious issue, not something to be trivialised.

secondly, see the updated post overnight:

i'm afraid the story has spread a little further afield than although presumably you're waiting for cathy horyn to pick it up before making a decision on whether or not it's a story.

if there is no issue here, then i'm interested in your theories on why mcginley has now shut down the video on youtube and why lewitt has suddenly removed kershaw's image from its website.

it's abundantly clear that you're a real news hound. i strongly advise you never seek employment in a newsroom.

Lou said...

Your rebuttals are unnecessarily venomous and insulting. Are you insecure? Your reflective comments, and sarcastic jibes surely denote so.

You are nothing more than a news monger and speculator. You have planted an opinion - that the film contains a subliminal message of suicide. You have read too much into the film, and pieced together, like another commenter has mentioned, circumstantial evidence to come up with your ludicrous theory.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Lou. Its all speculation and sensationalism. And you're evidently insecure, maybe you should move away from doing work which gets so badly ripped apart?

zee said...

yeah, you're pathetic.

Sadie said...

This article and many of the comments in response to it are so low brow it actually embarrassed me to read them. Just because a subject is painful and serious, it does not mean that any z grade "writer" (for lack of a better term, if it were not for blogger, rubbish like this would never be published) can hash out a bunch of hearsay and claim that they are supporting the cause. To suggest that this video-which has since been explained to represent Alice in Wonderland) glamorises suicide is completely undermining people who have been affected by it (of which I am one). There is no way of glamorising suicide-anybody who has experienced this in a real way knows that.
For goodness sake, nearly every action movie contains scenes of people jumping off buildings-are they endorsing suicide? Stop looking for drama where there is none.

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