How far can photos of girls in clothes truly alter our perception of ourselves? Looking at the history of fashion photography would tell you quite far, and in this case positively (a rarity, we know.)
Upon discovering Laura Newton’s work via Instagram, Celia Moutawahid felt compelled to incorporate it in a shoot with her friends, Celia Bruneau and Maeva Prigent, “I was amazed! Her collection crystallized everything I was obsessed with.” The trio kept their responsibilities free and interchanging throughout the project, with interests spanning over hand embroidery, ceramic art, styling, drawing, photography and modeling, “We did this project as one person with 6 hands!” In the spirit of making the ordinary extraordinary, the shoot took place in Celia B’s apartment, giving the photos an air of intimacy and playfulness. Celia B and Maeva also modeled the looks, “it was like a conversation, an exchange between us. To photograph, be photographed.”
Fashion imagery and the human form have always had a complicated relationship, Laura’s collection addresses this in a sensitive manner that inspired, challenged and captivated the three artists. Viewers are invited to question the hackneyed, outdated representation of the female figure as a distorted object whose function is to merely sell the garments. Instead, the curves and turns of Maeva’s body, which the media would typically conceal are tenderly highlighted and the smalls of the body are tightly bound, “Laura wants the woman to be proud, very straight…to show the full extent of her body,” Celia M told us, “in a certain way it questions how society modifies our vision of our body.”
The visceral nature of Laura’s selected materials interacting with the body adds depth to this commentary. The knitted dresses appear sensual and soft, but they are also strong and rigid ‒ perhaps a metaphor for the woman. Celia M notes the “use of woods” outlining areas of skin “is full of symbolism,” the natural beauty of wood being appreciated no matter its shape, size or colour ‒ viewing the body this way is a liberating act of rebellion against society’s passé beauty standards.
The trio isn’t afraid to encourage discussion surrounding the shoot, after all, great art should always provoke questions. The manner in which still life imagery interacts with the portraits suggests a thoughtful narrative. Celia B’s clay sculptures skilfully mimic the curves and turns of the models, they can be likened to an abstract female form ‒ is this a compliment or does it objectify? “It is paradoxical,” Maeva notes, “we wanted to create a link between the figurative and the abstractions of forms,” Celia B adds.
Words Georgia Canning