Crystal Renn for Vogue Paris' 90th Anniversary Issue. Shot by Terry Richardson. Image source.
If you’re anything like me, right now you’re staring at the two pictures above and thinking, “I should not like this, I should not like this, I should not like this, WHY DO I LIKE THIS?!” Or, maybe, you are so wholly disgusted by the entire concept that at this very moment you are closing your internet browser and preparing to go to the gym as repentance for excess carb exposure.
Either way, one can’t help but flash through a series of feelings ranging from highly perturbed to intense hunger. Then there are those nagging questions: What’s the significance of using a plus sized model like Crystal Renn for a shoot like this? Is this supposed to be some sort of commentary on the fashion industry’s ongoing problem with using underweight models? Or is all of this speculation just a pseudo-political cover up for something that really amounts to nothing more than watching a sexy woman covered in jewels enjoy a good meal (albeit in a grossly exaggerated manner)? I must admit, in regards to all of these questions I am at a complete loss for answers.
Some insight from Caroline Roitfeld, Editor of Vogue Paris and stylist for this particular editorial, provides a small hint at the darker subtext; the inspiration comes from La Grande Bouffe, a film about a group of men who retire to a villa to eat themselves to death. I feel I should also mention that the premise involves quite a few prostitutes, although how this bears on the editorial is never expressly mentioned by Ms. Roitfeld.
Armed with this little piece of information, I am inclined to believe that this concept has nothing to do with eating disorders or plus size/not plus size, and instead focuses on society's obsession with glamorizing consumption. After all, we live in a world where people spend as much time taking pictures of their food as they do eating it, and where certain accessories are treated with the same amount of reverence usually reserved for the Dalai Lama. As for the casting choice of Crystal Renn, I like to think it is part tongue-in-cheek, part genuine respect—Ms. Renn is an extraordinarily expressive model, and she certainly deserves her place in major fashion publications.
At the end of the day, this editorial will get people talking, and there will undoubtedly be people whose opinions differ drastically on the subject. I’ve put in my two cents, but I’m curious…what do you think?