Romance in editorial typically boils down to the kind of saccharine romanticism that borders on cringe worthy – lovers kiss, they stare longingly, the curtain falls and they swoon. In between all these cliche’s they find time to display the latest designer wares in a suitably aspirational fashion. Every moment is as calculating and emotionally manipulative as the most heavy handed film.
With the rigors of Valentine’s day behind it’s nice to look at love with a bit of cynicism. Steven Klein‘s Trust Me in the latest Vogue is one part classic Klein coldness and two parts bitter liaison. Karen Elson and her man in black endure the banality of the car park by looking sullen, aloof and at times downright angry with one another. If she isn’t sealing his mouth shut with a firm hand he’s giving her the evil eye from beneath Tom Ford sunglasses. This isn’t a love story as much as it’s a tale of modern apathy. Two people whose outer perfection has rendered them almost inhuman. The best clothes, the nicest cars, everything slick and glossy yet completely worthless. Elson and Ballou are simply vessels and while this story lacks the urgency (and eroticism) of Klein’s other recent endeavors it retains a poignancy. The detachment of the couple belies the simple fact behind every editorial – this isn’t love, it’s commerce. The only romance that occurs between the glossy magazine pages is that of the consumer and the market.