|tom ford for vogue paris via fashion_screen|
In the much-hyped, Tom Ford-edited December 2010 edition of Vogue Paris, which is out tomorrow, Ford tackles the subject of cosmetic surgery with an eight page editorial called La Panthère ose (which translates as “the panther dares” - a play on the French version of the film title The Pink Panther). Starring the world’s most high profile plus size model Crystal Renn, the editorial was shot by Ford and styled by editor in chief Carine Roitfeld. Yes, cosmetic surgery makes an interesting editorial backdrop for any fashion magazine, considering that such magazines stand accused of only ever showcasing unrealistic – and frequently digitally enhanced – images of female “perfection” that prompt feelings of inadequacy in “normal” women and lead them to eating disorders and cosmetic surgery. But it is not the first time this has been done. The July 2005 edition of Vogue Italia featured an 80-page cover story by Steven Meisel called Makeover Madness. Shot inside a medical equipment rental facility and a suite at the St Regis, the story depicted Linda Evangelista and eight other models before, "during" and after staged procedures (complete with fake blood). It's interesting to compare the two editorials.
The 2005 story (here) depicts nose jobs, breast augmentations, liposuction and blepharoplasty or eyelid surgery, male doctors and female nurses.
The 2010 version (above and below) depicts exactly the same procedures, minus liposuction - and two male attendants in the place of the doctors and nurses.
One could speculate that Vogue Paris deliberately omitted liposuction from this story because of the body image debate that has been raging since 2006, following the deaths of several models from eating disorder-related conditions. And it would defeat the purpose, surely, of having a plus-size model in the editorial? Unless that's a shadow on Renn's leg in image four, however, we would put money on her thigh having been airbrushed by the magazine.
Renn has revealed that she wore a prosthetic mask in some pictures – presumably those showing her with grotesquely overinflated lips and acutely chiselled cheekbones. The kind of cheekbones frockwriter has spotted on more than one high profile twentysomething model.
There is one interesting addition to Ford’s cosmetic surgery story: sex.
In one shot, Renn's character appears to be on the receiving end of some oral pleasure from one model - with her left arm dangled around a second male model, who looks barely legal - while casually sipping Coke from a straw in one hand and channel surfing with the other.
Many will no doubt find Ford’s post-op cunnilingus proposition - which all looks very consensual, save for the fact that the patient requires assistance to walk and shower and would most likely be on heavy duty painkillers - funny. The score of women who claim to have been indecently assaulted by cosmetic/plastic surgeons while under sedation probably won't be amongst those laughing. Nor indeed, any date rape victims.
Another image in the series (second from the end) is ambiguous. Renn is lying in the lap of one model, who is holding an ice pack to her forehead, while the other leans over her suggestively. The latter is holding her waist with one hand, while "administering" Chanel No 5 - either orally or perhaps as a substitute for an Amyl Nitrate "popper", a hugely popular drug in the gay mens' scene.
Ford aims to be controversial. After all, he is in the process of making his big comeback in women’s fashion. Besides, he has never shied from controversy, either with the advertising imagery for Gucci or more recently, through the advertising campaigns for his own brand, notably the mens’ fragrance campaign shot by mate Terry Richardson. The duo team up again in this issue of Vogue Paris in a western-themed editorial called (what else?) Pussy Western, starring Renn once again, opposite Abbey Lee Kershaw and Eniko Mihalik.
Interestingly, Ford's cosmetic surgery story coincides with the publication of The Daily Beast’s roundup of some of the new, far less invasive cosmetic surgery procedures that are currently being hailed by various US cosmetic and plastic surgeons as having "revolutionised" their practices.
They include skin resurfacing machines that some claim have eliminated the need for upper and lower eyelid surgery and fillers that have reportedly proven to be so effective they are replacing some nose jobs and the traditional facelift – with one plastic surgeon describing the latter as “an outdated insane operation”.
all images: tom ford for vogue paris via fashion_screen