Nakedness reveals itself. Nudity is placed on display….The nude is condemned to never being naked. Nudity is a form of dress. – John Berger
Sometimes the latest designer look is nothing but an afterthought. Compared to the honesty of a nude frame clothing can seem almost inessential. In fashion photography the nude stands out as an almost gratuitous extra – it is often asked what the “purpose” of revealing the body is when the end goal is selling clothing. How can anyone even begin to notice the individual pieces when they’re staring down the undressed form of Maryna Linchuk?
Tapping into our voyeuristic tendencies and compelling us to look for beauty in something non-consumerist, the nude is a respite from the over-saturation of product imagery. While it can (and will) be argued that the body is the ultimate product there remains something jarring about the combination of fashion and nudity. Sex has always been a marketing tool but so much of the nudity manufactured by fashion is devoid of eroticism. Open up almost any fashion magazine and you will find a hint nudity but the detached and almost clinical manner in which it is presented places it’s lure in the realm of the cerebral rather than the carnal.
Purple Magazine is no stranger to bareness, their nuanced mix of sex and fashion iconography is well documented. For their S/S issue Mario Sorrenti delves deep into the male gaze to produce a portfolio of images that is at times sensual and at times unsettling. We are presented with a series of nudes of the leading female models but sex isn’t necessarily the object. Depending on the picture the girls can look garish – Magdalena Frackowiak’s baroque features are overshadowed by her protruding rib cage while Anne Vyalitsyna is shrouded in Margiela and grunge makeup. Maryna dangles a crucifix from her mouth as she pushes her pants down – the imagery is almost too obvious to be worthwhile. Only Karmen Pedaru’s diva at play portraits and Paz De La Huerta’s lush turn in Rodarte tights (special attention must be given to Jane How’s smart styling) convey the appropriate level of sensuality but the series as a whole is engaging. Titilation is not a requirement – neither is beauty, the soulful honesty of Sorrenti’s lens is enough to hold ones attention.