04 August 2011
Child Models of French Vogue
We've all seen these and other images, which recently surfaced from a photo shoot for the upcoming December/January edition of French Vogue, featuring 10 year old model Thylane Blondeau. Her star is rising fast in the modeling world, which she has been involved in since the age of 4 (incidentally, the average career of a runway model ends at age 19, according to a USA Today article from 2006). It is, to be sure, an industry that is dominated by youth. Too young? Too creepy? I don't know. From a purely artistic standpoint, she is a gorgeous human being with a look that this client obviously felt represented the look and feel they sought after. To put a bit of context around these photos, the magazine is running a special child-centric holiday issue in which the cover girl herself is only 16. The issue is said to include even more spreads featuring children and shot by the very controversial Terry Richardson, so I doubt this is the last we'll hear of it. And for a European high fashion magazine to devote an entire issue to children, I would certainly expect it to be geared more towards high fashion and not children.
At any rate, hair & makeup never hurt anyone, I could find children's clothes at any mall in America that are far more revealing than these, I don't see 1 picture of any kid standing around in those heels, the issue is meant for circulation in Europe, a place far less uptight and far more avant garde than many in the U.S. can fully appreciate and I don't find any of the poses to be overtly sexually or suggestive. We, as viewers, make that leap. I do think that the fashion world has always striven to push envelopes, to find artistic beauty in unlikely places and force viewers to re-examine the paradigm through which they view an image. There is always so much more available in terms of art and intellect and discussion than what first jumps off the page at us. Is this really exploiting the model who was undoubtedly instructed to merely “look bored”, the viewer for using social/physical cues (such as makeup and high heels) to contextually sexualize a child and the resulting internal conflict, or is it questioning the fashion industry itself and its obsession with youth and beauty? Or youth as it relates to beauty?
It's not an easy answer, but maybe that makes it a good spread...