Sometimes, for a scintillating editorial, you don't need a fancy concept, or references to some old movie. You don't require a "narrative." You just need a good model, a good photographer, and some crazy clothes.
Model Suvi Koponen, photographer Richard Burbridge, and stylist Joanne Blades serve up scads of all of the above in the May issue of Italian Vogue, for a story called A Summer Blend. It's the kind of seasonal round-up that could have been a grab-bag of trends tied together incoherently by lesser hands — but here the craziness works. We don't care to know what Suvi is "doing" in these shots, or wonder as to her motivation, or whatnot — it's enough that she's there, moving, jumping (but not in that U.S.Vogue way), twisting and dominating every picture. It's the kind of spread that's an end in itself.
Yes, Suvi can balance on the wooden-ridged lid of a steamer trunk in six-inch heels. That's the kind of stuff they teach you when you're Finland's Next Top Model.
And yes, she can do the same trick upside down. Remember the all the pretzel contortions and weird angles of last season's Calvin Klein campaign? This is a woman who knows how to throw the kind of poses that make you look twice.
This is kind of a don't-call-it-a-comeback moment for Koponen. While she still appeared in major campaigns as recently as last fall, she's been absent from the international runways for two seasons now, preferring to travel. If only we all could announce our returns from abroad with 13-page editorials in Italian Vogue.
While I love narrative fashion spreads as much as the next person, they can sometimes suffer from a certain cloying quality, a kind of intrusive nudge-nudge of the viewer. Even as you're flicking through the pages, you recognize that now you're supposed to think this, and now you're supposed to realize this is true, but wait, here's a reversal! Et cetera. Also sometimes models aren't good at acting, or the stories are trite — how many times have we seen the "woman takes a lover" arc? Editorials like Burbridge's here are bombast, color and light signifying little, perhaps, beyond themselves — but they're so damn for-the-heck-of-it impressive it's hard to look away.