Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Animals, Germany, Africa, and Fashion

I'm not sure how I feel about the use of animals in editorials. In the case of the Fall 2011 Bulgari ads featuring Julianne Moore, I think the use of animals was inappropriate since it was a jewelry/accessory campaign and to me, the animals just seemed like another accessory. Maybe I was reading into it but it just looked like they were there for their soft fur (a rich accessory) against Julianne's soft and naked skin. Not the best concept for an ad campaign in my opinion. 

Anyway, I came across this shoot for the February 2008 issue of Vogue Germany photographed by Koto Bolofo and loved the images. I don't feel the use of animals in this shoot is as blatantly wrong as in the Bulgari ads, but I also don't like the idea of using animals as a symbol of wealth and status as the cheetah appears to be for me: at the end of a leash as if it is something expensive and exotic that shows off her wealth. I don't like the title of the shoot, Africa Appeal, because it seems to me that the appeal of Africa is owning and acquiring exotic and expensive animals. The clothing isn't African inspired but rather inspired by the western fashion that was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when Germany (I'm singling out German colonization of Africa since the publication is German Vogue) was colonizing parts of Africa. 

I really do love the images though and the ones without the animals the most - like the 6th, 9th, 11th and 13th images because I get a feeling of independence, self-confidence, and trying to fit in somewhere that seems a bit out of place, like a thatched roof on its side in the middle of a photo studio. I think those images are incredibly soft and powerfully beautiful images. I just happened to find this shoot interesting beyond the surface because of their use of animals (which I've been thinking a lot about lately) and considering Germany's rather turbulent history with Africa. I like it when there is a bit more to a shoot than what is right there in the image. 

Photographer: Koto Bolofo
Model: Inguna Butane 
Publication: German Vogue
Issue: February 2008
Title: Africa Appeal

Images taken from here.


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