Archive for the ‘models’ Category

More genius of colour printing – Vogue cover

June 20, 2015

 

The 'London Babes' cover from Vogue in December 1993

The ‘London Babes’ cover from Vogue in December 1993

This is a great issue of Vogue, with Danish fashion model Helena Christensen on the cover photographed by Nick Knight (his second Vogue cover, the first being the month before). Inside, is Steven Meisel’s ‘London Babes’ photoshoot styled by Isabella Blow. From a printing point of view, the cover is interesting for several reasons. The Blighty colour cover I discussed last week was printed colour letterpress. That technique produces quite a crude result compared with modern-day offset lithograph printing, which is used for most magazines today, including this 1993 Vogue. Nick Knight is renowned for his digital manipulation of photographs and as a proponent of its ‘extremely exciting’ possibilities.

Detail of Helena Christensen's eye from the cover of Vogue in December 1993

Detail of Helena Christensen’s eye from the cover of Vogue in December 1993

The detail of Helena Christensen’s eye from the Vogue cover demonstrates several things. First, the skin tones are purely made up of magenta dots. Compared with the Blighty cover, the dots are finer – more like 300 lines per inch than the 150 of the 1950s. Click on the images here to see them at a larger size. Notice how much blue there is in and around the eye – this looks to me as if a blue shadow has been added in Photoshop. Similarly with the blue highlights in the eyebrows and hair.

Detail of Helena Christiansen's lips from the Vogue cover

Detail of Helena Christensen’s lips from the Vogue cover

This close focus on Christensen’s lips shows a much higher density of the magenta, a tinge of yellow at the centre of the mouth and then a shadow of cyan, which becomes heavier moving to the right. Below is a a magnified image of the whole face, with the bottom of the G from the title across the forehead. This is printed in solid magenta.

Detail of Helena Christiansen's face from the Vogue cover

Detail of Helena Christiansen’s face from the Vogue cover

The genius of colour printing

June 19, 2015
Blighty pin-up cover for the popular men's weekly by MB Tompkins in 1958 (16 August)

Blighty pin-up cover for the popular men’s weekly by MB Tompkins in 1958 (16 August)

Colour printing has always seemed to me to be a bit of a miracle – seemingly every colour under the sun can be printed from just four colours, cyan (sky blue), magenta (a pinky red) yellow and black. The colours are abbreviated as CMYK – with K being black, the ‘key’ colour. In theory, the black is not necessary because the other three should merge to black, but in practice, the result is a bit washed out, more a murky brown.

In the 1950s, when this cover was printed, the colour painting of the glamorous dancer would have been photographed through a filter and a metal screen to produce a sheet of printing film for each colour. The screen would be a metal screen capable of showing 150 lines to the inch. The film would taped on to the other pieces of film of each colour for the rest of the page and then paired up with its partner page – the back cover in this case – and that assembled film used to make a printing plate for each colour. Each plate would have been wrapped around its cylinder on a four-unit press. When the paper is run through the press, each colour ink in its turn would have been passed from the printing plate on to the paper. The overprinting of the colours builds up the image.

Detail showing dots of printed ink from the lower face of Blighty magazine cover in 1958

Detail showing dots of printed ink from the lower face of Blighty magazine cover in 1958, Click on the picture to see it in more detail.

Look at the magnified detail here and you can see individual dots for each colour. In the bottom left, there are dots of pure cyan. You can see that the dots are in regular lines at an angle of about 10 degrees to the horizontal. In the darker blue areas, you can see black dots among the cyan. The skin tones are mainly magenta with yellow highlights. The red lips are a combination of magenta and yellow. The teeth are simply the white paper. You can make out some of all the colours in the black areas.

Blighty was a popular men’s weekly magazine published by City Magazines at 64 Fleet St, but it was printed 200 miles away by Eric Bemrose in Long Lane, Liverpool. The Long Lane plant closed down in 1991. The illustration was by MB Tompkins, an artist about whom I only know that he produced Blighty covers in 1958, and some pulp book covers.

MB Tompkins signature from Blighty magazine cover in 1958

MB Tompkins signature from Blighty magazine cover in 1958

 

Arnold Bennett’s Savoy omlette and Paltrow’s goop

April 11, 2015
Gwyneth Paltrow is digitally gooped for the Sunday Times Magazine (22 February 2015)

Gwyneth Paltrow is digitally gooped for the Sunday Times Magazine (22 February 2015)

I mentioned the Woman magazine editor and West Midlands writer Arnold Bennett a while back with links to recipe’s for the Savoy hotel omlette named after him in the 1920s. The dish has cropped up again recently in the Sunday Times Magazine, which reproduces the recipe with some tips from today’s head cook at the hotel, Andy Cook. On the cover is actress Gwyneth Paltrow being ‘gooped’ in green goo, a cover that was a digital merging of the goop and a Paltrow file photograph. The cover reminds me of a Stylist from 2011.

TV chef Nigella Lawson has salted caramel poured over her head for a December 2011 Stylist cover

TV chef Nigella Lawson has salted caramel poured over her head for a December 2011 Stylist cover

Gwyneth Paltrow being 'gooped' for a photo shoot in today's Sunday Times Magazine

Gwyneth Paltrow being ‘gooped’ for a photo shoot inside the Sunday Times Magazine

Monroe brings glamour to Blighty price on eBay

April 6, 2015
1956 copy of Blighty with Marilyn Monroe cover

1956 copy of Blighty with Marilyn Monroe cover

A Marilyn Monroe cover sprinkled some stardust on the price of this 1956 copy of Blighty when it was sold on eBay recently.

Copies of Blighty – which was originally a free magazine for the troops in the First World War and then resurrected for WWII – are usually more likely to fetch £5 than £50, but this issue fetched a whacking £70.88 plus £1.40 postage on eBay. And, there were 31 bids from 6 bidders.

After World War Two, Blighty carried on being published, turning itself into ‘the national humorous weekly’ and then a popular men’s weekly. It later renamed itself Parade and became more explicit, ending up on the top shelf.

A rare colour cover by Arthur Ferrier to help Blighty magazine celebrate VE Day in 1945

A rare colour cover by Arthur Ferrier to help Blighty magazine celebrate VE Day in 1945

The covers were at first whole-page cartoons by the prolific Arthur Ferrier, but mono photographs of young starlets such as Joan Collins or Sabrina replaced these at the end of 1953 and then colour became a regular feature during 1954. Ferrier’s cartoons moved to page 3. One Ferrier cover for Blighty that did well on eBay marked the end of WWII and fetched £48.99 plus £3.99 postage (13 bids by 4 bidders). This was unusual for the time in being colour.

Here is a 1944 British Pathe film of Ferrier drawing a strip for his Sally cartoon in the News of the World based a live model, theatre actress Eileen Bennett.

A contemporary Marilyn Monroe cover will lift the price of most magazines, she being sought after by film and celebrity enthusiasts, and she is an icon for the gay community – an aspect encouraged by Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind’.

 

In search of the romantic kiss

March 29, 2015
Rafael Sabatini's Captain Blood brought to visual life on the cover of Pearson's Magazine (1930) by Joseph Greenup

Rafael Sabatini’s Captain Blood brought to visual life on the cover of Pearson’s Magazine (1930) by Joseph Greenup

Fiction, in the form of short stories, serials or character-driven series, seems to have been a staple of magazines for as long as they have existed. Dickens, HG Wells, Conan Doyle and Rafael Sabatini are among those who made their name providing the weekly or monthly adventures, Christie and Edgar Wallace the crime, and Ursula Bloom and Ruby M. Ayres the romantic fiction. The Georgian and early Victorian works by the likes of Dickens were not illustrated, but the images of Sidney Paget for The Strand set the tone for the way Holmes has been portrayed, in print or on the screen, since they were first published.

To my eyes, depicting adventure is relatively easy – whether it be the Martian invaders for War of the Worlds or the piratical looks of Sabatini’s Captain Blood by Joseph Greenup – but romantic fiction is harder. Particularly in more prurient times, getting the balance right between love and lust is tricky. Artists, and later photographers, have striven to portray romance – and in particular the kiss. Here are two examples. The first is an illustration from ‘Honesty is the best policy’, a short story by Jane England in Woman’s Friend (22 May 1937). England started writing in the 1920s until about 1970, producing about 60 novels. Philsp.com lists England as the pseudonym of Vera Murdoch Stuart Jervis (1896-1967) and credits her with one serial and five short stories in five magazine titles:

  • ‘End of desire’, The Novel Magazine (May 1937);
  • ‘Knight-errant’, Lovat Dickson’s Magazine (Jun 1934);
  • ‘The last drift’, The Royal Magazine (Nov 1925);
  • ‘Old lamps’, The New Magazine (Oct 1926);
  • ‘Thin ice’, 20-Story Magazine (Feb 1933).

The drawing is signed, but this is not legible.

The youngsters steal a kiss in a short story from Woman's Friend (22 May 1937)

The youngsters steal a kiss in a short story from Woman’s Friend (22 May 1937)

Here is a detail of the painting, with the signature (which someone may be able to identify). Note the corner of the picture frame by the man’s shoulder, which seems to point to the courting couple like an arrow, and the file storage boxes on the shelf leaning into each other.

Detail of Woman's Friend romantic kiss illustration

Detail of Woman’s Friend romantic kiss illustration

Illustration signature

Illustration signature

The drawing was published by Woman’s Friend in 1937, while the photographic spread below dates from three years earlier. It was during the 1930s that the battle for dominance between artist and photographer in magazines reached its peak, and, after the war, it was the latter that came out on top. At least for the next 50 years.

How film stars kiss from London Life 30 June 1934

How film stars kiss from London Life 30 June 1934

The spread is from London Life, which specialised in reproducing risqué film stills. It is a montage of five film stills as the woman swoons in anticipation in the man’s arms. At the top left are Ronald Coleman, with, below him and the unidentified actress, Mexican actress Lupe Vélez in the grip of John Boles in Resurrection (1931); Jean Harlow is in a ‘caveman embrace’ in the centre; and while the oldest still of a couple in a similar embrace is not identified, the bottom right is a more light-hearted Maurice Chevalier and Anne Dvorak in Way to Love (1933). Note, though, that the actual kiss is not shown, possibly because it was very difficult to portray a kiss while still being able to see the faces of both parties in a recognisable way. But then, after all, this was film publicity – and anticipation was everything.

What about the undies?

January 19, 2015
A Woman's Own centre spread from 1939 - 'She likes undies'

A Woman’s Own centre spread from 1939 – ‘She likes undies’

Undies. When did you last see that word? It used to be used on women’s magazine covers and in headlines quite a lot. But where do you see it now? Fashion journalists in magazines were certainly not afraid to use it in 1939 – as this centre spread from Woman’s Own shows – ‘She likes undies.’

And in Woman’s Fair in its January 1940 ‘Wishful thinking’ editorial for the new year: ‘We are going to stop hoarding old evening dresses and decrepit undies and make instead the beauteous evening gala outfit on page 24.’ At the end of the 1940s, here are undies as the topic for the main cover line above the title on Woman’s Pictorial:

Woman's Pictorial magazine from 1949 with the cover line: 'Beutiful undies to make and embrioder'

Woman’s Pictorial magazine from 1949 with the cover line: ‘Beautiful undies to make and embroider’

But note that these were the days when fashionable women made their own. I can’t see such an article causing Woman’s Own to go flying off the shelves today. Fashions change and it seems that reliable, cheap undies from Marks and Spencer tempted women away from their sowing machines. By 1991, the Times could inform us: ‘And we know that Margaret Thatcher gets her undies at M&S. “Doesn’t everybody?” she asked a television reporter.’

The full Oxford English Dictionary defines undies as meaning ‘Articles of girls’ or women’s underclothing’. In support, it quotes:

  • 1906. Punch 30 May: ‘She’d blouses for Sundays, And marvellous “undies” concocted of ribbons and lace.’
  • 1920. Arnold Bennett, the Woman editor and novelist, in his book Our Women: Chapters on the Sex-discord: ‘You have only to reflect … upon the astonishing public importance given to what are delicately known as “undies”.’
  • 1939. Arthur Ransome in Secret Water: ‘Go on, Bridgie. Off with your things. Undies too.’ (Doesn’t sound like it’s from one of his Swallows and Amazons children’s books!)
  • 1967. Crime writer Nicolas Freeling in one of his Van der Valk books, Strike Out Where Not Applicable: Arlette … knows I’m not just belting off for the afternoon because of the black undies.

But that OED definition needs rewriting because undies are for men these days, as the Christmas clash of the male models shows:

David Gandy has claimed victory over David Beckham in the battle of the undies – and even made the astonishing claim that his underwear range has single-handedly saved Marks & Spencer (Mail on Sunday, 18 January 2015)

Undies meaning men’s underwear is a trend that goes back to at least 1993, when the Evening Standard talked about a company ‘that makes men’s undies’ and there was an ‘offer’ in another newspaper that year, the a Daily Star: ‘Buy a pair of Gazza’s undies.’

However, a quick flick through the newspaper cuttings suggests the word is these days much more likely to appear in the Sun than a broadsheet. While the ever-so-posh Lucia van der Post was quite happy to talk about undies for How to Spend It, the Financial Times glossy magazine, the FT put the word in quotes last year in a column by David Tang; almost as if it’s not quite a safe word to touch for its tycoon columnist (a sense suggested in that ‘delicately known as’ phrase from Arnold Bennett in 1920):

A stay at a flash hotel in Miami last year had us in a suite of rooms with a huge art-deco style bathroom, beautifully decorated in black and white, but with nowhere to sit or put one’s ‘undies’

‘One’s undies.’ Now that’s a really rare phrase.

The original i-D cover – from Picture Post

January 10, 2015
The fifth issue of i-D with a manipulated image of Princess Diana as the first winking subject and cover lines that pun on i-D, Di and DIY

The fifth issue of i-D with a manipulated image of Princess Diana as the first winking subject and cover lines that pun on i-D, Di and DIY

Fashion magazine i-D was founded by former Vogue art director Terry Jones and the winking model has been a feature of the cover since its fifth issue in 1981 (note the unusual landscape orientation for the magazine). The winking face mimics the letters i-D turned on their side as an emoticon.

It seems that certain people cannot wink, so some subterfuge has to be found to cover up the subject’s right eye. Sade and Madonna can manage it, but Kylie Minogue and Kate Moss can’t! In the duotone blue image here, Princess Diana has someone else’s heavily made-up winking right eye posted over her own.

Vivian Blaine from the London stage adaption of the musical Guys and Dolls on the cover of Picture Post in 1953

Vivian Blaine from the London stage adaption of the musical Guys and Dolls on the cover of Picture Post in 1953

So this Picture Post from 1953 with Vivian Blaine from the London run of the musical Guys and Dolls caught my eye – as it may well have caught Terry Jones’ eye, for he was born in 1945 and is on record as being a fan of Dan dare in the Eagle, which was produced by Hulton, Picture Post‘s publisher. Blaine played the chorus girl Miss Adelaide in the Broadway and film versions of Guys and Dolls as well as in London, with ‘Adelaide’s Lament’ as her show-stopping song.

French dancer Colette Marchand was renowned for her legs and is here shown in the French ballet Cine-Bijou by Roland Petit

French dancer Colette Marchand was renowned for her shapely legs, Picture Post tells us, and is here shown in the French ballet Cine-Bijou by Roland Petit

Picture Post is frequently cited as an inspiration for magazine designers, for example for Michael Rand in his work on the Sunday Times Magazine. Although a groundbreaking magazine in photojournalism and its layout techniques, Picture Post was losing its way in 1953 and was focusing on a male audience with regular centre-spread pin-ups and gimmicks such as 3-D pictures. As well the Guys and Dolls feature, this issue of  Picture Post includes photographs of French dancer Colette Marchand in a similarly-themed French ballet Cine-Bijou. She was renowned for her shapely legs, Picture Post tells us, and is here shown in the ballet by Roland Petit.

As well as looking forward 30 years to the winking i-D, the pointing Blaine image harks back 40 years to Alfred Leete’s pointing Kitchener cover from London Opinion in 1914, which was also used for the ‘Your Country Needs You’ first world war poster. This, of course, inspired many copies, including James Montgomery Flagg’s 1916 Leslie’s magazine cover – with its turgid cover line, ‘What are you doing for preparedness?’ – and the ‘I want you for US Army’ recruiting poster. Although the British did not reuse Leete’s Kitchener image in the second world war, Picture Post ran it as a cover in 1940 and the Americans dusted off Flagg’s image for their recruitment campaigns again.

Picture Post, i-D and London Opinion are discussed in my book, British Magazine Design, coming out in November from the V&A.

Joan Collins, Madonna and Kate Moss on magazine covers

December 22, 2014
Joan Collins talks about married life as a slave in the Daily Mail's Weekend supplement  - 30 August 2014

Joan Collins talks about married life as a slave in the Daily Mail’s Weekend supplement this year

When it comes to longevity as a magazine cover star, the prize has to go to the actress Joan Collins. I’ve identified her as far back as 1951 at the age of 18 on the cover of Tit-Bits and there can’t have been a year since when she hasn’t graced a magazine, from Picture Post, to Span, to Film Review, Woman, Playboy and OK! That’s 63 years a cover star.

But although she may not be showing her age – the Weekend supplement cover here is from August this year – Collins is getting on (she’s 81!), so who can rival her in future? Two names spring out –  Madonna and Kate Moss (far too early to consider Lady Gaga). So what are their chances of rivalling Joan Collins?

Madonna on the cover of Smash Hits back in February 1984

Madonna on the cover of Smash Hits back in February 1984

Joan Collins had a massive boost to her career with the role of Alexis in Dallas and such reworkings are vital to a long career. Madonna is back in the news at the moment over the ‘artistic rape’ she says she suffered because someone stole demo tapes from her new album. There’s no doubt the US-born singer and actress is a brilliant self-publicist. She has been recognised as the best-selling female record artist on record. Now 56, Madonna’s first Vogue cover was February 1989. Before that, she was a Smash Hits cover in 1984, when she was coming up to the age of 26. That’s 30 years as a cover star and, assuming she is still popular when she’s 81, another 25 years to go, total: 55 years of cover stardom.

Kate Moss in Corinne Day photograph on cover of the Face magazine in July 1990

Kate Moss in Corinne Day photograph on cover of the Face magazine in July 1990

Kate Moss turned 40 this year and marked it with a Playboy cover. Her modelling fortune was made by her appearance – as a scrawny 16-year-old – on a 1990 cover of style bible The Face shot by Corinne Day. Moss was the face of the Third Summer of Love (the others being 1967 and then the rave summer of 1988).

Starting at such an early age clearly gives Kate Moss an advantage. She has 24 years behind her and, assuming the 81 limit again, 41 years to go. Total: 65. That early start at 16 gives her a potential two-year edge on Joan Collins and a full decade on Madonna. Her first cover was on the Face, a relatively niche title, whereas Tit-Bits in 1951, the launch platform for Joan Collins, was probably selling a million copies a week. In contrast, Moss has been on a Vogue cover – frequently twice a year – just about every year since 1997, whereas Collins has never been on a Vogue cover.

On a personal level, Collins is on her fifth marriage – including Anthony Newley, one of the most gifted actors, singers and songwriters of his generation (Goldfinger title song, a dozen top 40 hits, roles in Dr Dolittle and Eastenders) – and has three children.

Madonna has been married twice – to Dead Man Walking actor Sean Penn and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels director Guy Ritchie – and has four children. Moss has been married just once and has a child from her relationship with Dazed magazine co-founder Jefferson Hack.

What remains to be seen, however, is whether Kate Moss, or Madonna, has the staying power and the ability to appeal to such a wide range of people as Joan Collins.

WATCH OUT for my book on British Magazine Design from the V&A

Magazine sells for £8000 on eBay

October 31, 2014
Marc Jacobs 2014 Playboy special issue

Marc Jacobs 2014 Playboy special issue in perspex box

Magazine collectors have been setting more records on eBay recently. At the top of the tree is the £8000 spent on a copy of Playboy.

It’s one of the 60th anniversary issues of the men’s magazine with Kate Moss on the cover from Jan/Feb 2014 (which went on sale at the start of December). There were at least two variants of the cover: a sideways-on shot of Moss in a Playboy Bunny costume kneeling, which was used in countries such as the UK, Hungary, US and Germany; and one used in Mexico and Italy with the British model kneeling and looking back over her left shoulder.

Inside the issue were 18 pages of photos, which she told one paper she did as a way of celebrating her 40th birthday in 2014.

The cover photographs were taken by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, two UK-based snappers who usually spend their time doing cover shots for the likes of Dazed & ConfusedLove, W and Vogue.

UK issues have been selling for up to £30 on eBay.

The looking-back image was also used for 800 unpriced copies produced in co-operation with US fashion designer Marc Jacobs. One of these went for about £150 in the US recently. However, number 433 of the 800 edition twice failed to attract any bids recently on eBay when priced at £150 and £125.

The copy that fetched £8000 was one of 100 Jacobs copies that were signed by Moss and came in a perspex box. This one is numbered 33/100. Moss appeared at a Jacobs shop in Mount Street, London, at the start of December 2013 as part of the publicity for Playboy‘s 60th celebrations.

Of course, the buyer is after some kind of celebrity rub-off rather than a magazine. But £8000? Has to be a PR stunt. One of these Playboy anniversary issues in a box sold in the US recently for just $3000 (about £1800).

WATCH OUT for my book on British Magazine Design from the V&A

Kate Moss 2014 Playboy cover as it appeared in the UK

Kate Moss 2014 Playboy cover as it appeared in the UK

Goalen – the super model face of the 1950s

June 13, 2014
super model - mannequin - Barbara Goalen

Sunday Times Magazine celebrates the style of 1952, as personified by super model Barbara Goalen (30 January 1977)

Model – or rather ‘mannequin’ in the teminology of the day – Barbara Goalen was chosen by the Sunday Times Magazine as the personification of the style of 1952.

The issue marked changes in ‘Britain at Work’ over the 25 years since Queen Elizabeth’s coming to the throne in 1952 in an article titled ‘The New Elizabethans’ (30 January 1977).

In that year, Goalen had been part of a 40,000-mile world tour over four weeks to promote British fashions and exports.

Goalen was born on the first day of 1921 and died in 2002. She was renowned for her wasp waist and her aloof looks.  Her measurements were 33 inches (for her ‘charlies’ in her own words), 18-in waist and 31-in hips; she tipped the scales at under eight stones.

Goalen’s modelling face was marked by arched eyebrows and she was the ideal mannequin for Dior’s New Look – ‘mink and diamonds’.

Despite her international success, she would be the leading super model in today’s terms, Goalen gave up modelling in 1954 when she married Nigel Campbell, a Lloyd’s underwriter. In the 1960s, she gave out fashion advice in the pages of the Daily Telegraph.

The National Portrait Gallery has four  photographs of Goalen ranging from 1949 to 1952, by Norman Parkinson (one with Wenda Parkinson, Parks’ wife since 1947) and John French. A fourth image from Keystone Press shows Goalen next to a portrait of herself by James Proudfoot.

Barbara Goalen on the cover of the general interest weekly Illustrated in 1953

Barbara Goalen on the cover of the general interest weekly Illustrated (29 August 1953)

The cover of Illustrated here shows an image from the shoot chosen by the Sunday Times Magazine. (There is a certain irony here in that the advent of free Sunday supplements sparked by the Sunday Times, was a big factor in killing off the general interest weeklies such as Illustrated.) Illustrated headlines Goalen as modelling the ‘London Look’. Inside, two photographers are credited, Peter Waugh and David Olins. (Some websites have identified the photographer as Richard Avedon, but this seems unlikely.)

Illustrated rival Picture Post also featured Goalen cover on its cover in 1952, in this case with a photo by John French.

 


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