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The Problem With Fashion's Obsession With Death

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Why, in so many fashion photographs, do the models look dead? It's a theme that's persisted in magazines as long as I can remember. These ads for the New Zealand boutique Superette are only the tip of the violence-glamorizing iceberg.

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Illustration for article titled The Problem With Fashions Obsession With Death

The tag line is — of course — "Be caught dead in it." But this is far from the first time fashion has sought to draw female customers with images of dead women.

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Illustration for article titled The Problem With Fashions Obsession With Death

Back in 2007, for "cycle" 8 of America's Next Top Model, Tyra Banks had the cast pose as murder victims for a shoot. You can see the whole series of images here, should you want to.

Illustration for article titled The Problem With Fashions Obsession With Death

But as in most things, Banks was just taking inspiration from a long-established fashion trend. Plenty of photographers have aestheticized violence. While this model in Steven Meisel's September, 2007, "Make Love Not War" spread for Vogue Italia might not be dead — yet — she's clearly pictured in the midst of a violent attack.

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Illustration for article titled The Problem With Fashions Obsession With Death

Is it better or worse that Steven Klein, for his part, spreads his depictions of violent death across gender lines? That's Kevin Federline, by the way.

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Illustration for article titled The Problem With Fashions Obsession With Death

Copyranter points to this Fall, 2006, Jimmy Choo campaign as another antecedent for the Superette images.

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Illustration for article titled The Problem With Fashions Obsession With Death

Not to mention this Duncan Quinn ad, which practically approaches snuff film territory.

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Illustration for article titled The Problem With Fashions Obsession With Death
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Then there was this August, 2007, spread in W magazine, featuring model Doutzen Kroes.

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Photographers Mart Alas & Marcus Piggott captured Kroes in a variety of poses that all strongly implied she had recently been the victim of violence.

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You can see the rest of the creepy story at Glossed Over. So if this troubling theme isn't even original or "edgy," why are we still creating and consuming these images?

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This is a Helmut Newton photograph from the early 90s.

How, as women's rights have increased and progress has been made in the West across every rubric of measurement, have we moved from fashion photography that, while still glamorizing violence, at least showed us as the ones with the guns, to an aesthetic that promotes death as the ultimate symbol of female subservience?

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Dead Is The New Black, Again [Copyranter]

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DISCUSSION

paigeturner-old
PaigeTurner

#7 really disturbs me. his "yeah this is my drugged, passed-out date- gotta problem?" look is super eerie. #deadmodels