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Model poses – art or dysfunction?


© Alex Rodriguez

Jem McCarron
WVoN co-editor


£900 for a blouse and another £900 for the matching trousers!

One of last weekend’s broadsheet magazine’s ‘fashion’ pages featured  women wearing clothes that must surely be significantly out of the price range of the paper’s readership, yet even were they within my grasp, I wouldn’t buy them because of the photographs.

Why? Because the poses of the models were so unnatural that it was actually impossible to appreciate the clothes.

The line between art and function is a blurry one in the fashion world.  A recent project by Spanish artist Yolanda Dominguez has looked at the ridiculous positions into which models contort themselves in the name of  fashion and glamour.

As part of “Poses Ms Dominquez filmed women striking classic model poses in public places, documenting the reaction of  passers-by.

In one scene a woman lies dramatically alongside a park flowerbed. After being prodded by a litter picker, the film shows her being helped to stand by a number of concerned people.

Another model sits with her handbag held to the side of her face, knees up in a coffee shop booth. A few people come to check on her, confused by her strange behaviour.

The other poses receive similar reactions, people watch nervously, puzzled by the odd positioning and stillness of the figures in the high street.

Clearly “Poses” demonstrates that fashion and glamour stances are unusual in everyday life but in their original context they are designed to demonstrate movement and mood.

Of course we don’t all lie around dramatically or put our handbags to our forehead, but we do sometimes lie, we do sometimes raise our hands and if we held almost any pose in public for more than a few seconds people would stare.

So I wonder how much of the public reaction to Ms Dominquez’s models was to the stillness of someone in an environment that is constantly in motion rather than the extravagantly ‘artistic’ postures they were adopting.

What this project does highlight is the stylistic way in which models are presented, that these ‘common’ model poses are anything but when played out by average women in average settings.

Intellectually we are able to recognise that this is fiction, but as it is used so excessively in marketing, the medium has become the message.

According to Arianna Huffington in her book ‘On Becoming Fearless…in love, work, and life’ the average American women sees four to six hundred advertisements each day, of which one in 11 communicates a direct message about beauty.

Yet for the majority of women the fashion and glamour world is far from reality, whether that’s due to the prohibitive cost of the clothes, the look and size of the models or the overly stylised poses that they adopt.

We are constantly bombarded with an unattainable, abnormal ideal that is both art and dysfunction.

  1. I loved the Poses video. Hilarious, like all the best activism!

  2. After commenting, I remembered that Caitlin Moran has a good section in her book about being a ‘real woman’ model for a fashion spread in the Observer magazine. She said that the clothes looked hideous except in pretty much one pose and she felt crushed by the end of the day. Worth a read!

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