The photographic narrative technique has been used for telling visual stories of the world and has been applied in fashion photography since the 1960s. A narrative itself is a collection of connected events or story. However in fashion photography especially, the completion of the narrative is unimportant and it is common for exclusions of frames as long as the most important or crucial frames remain so the viewers are able to understand the context of the narrative or continue the narrative themselves. (Berry 2015; Campbell 2010)
In 2014 Alexander McQueen’s Spring/Summer 2014 campaign by photographer Steven Klein followed an unusually dark theme while illuminating the beauty and image fashion within the set. Kate Moss starred in the advertising campaign and was placed inside a fictional post-apocalyptic setting that was inspired by “Peeping Tom”, a British 1960’s thriller film. The film followed the storyline of a serial killer who murders women and records their dying expressions with a portable camera. (Chann 2014; Yatzer 2014)
Sarah Burton is the designer of this pleated leather and gold gladiator-styled outfits while Kate Moss carries with her a miniature version of herself. (Stern n.d.; Tu 2014) The cinematic approach of the clothing and beauty, props, lighting and setting together have been successful in creating this dark, unsettling and eerie atmosphere Steven Klein has created. However looking closely at the images it seems there is a disconnect from the original concept or theme they intended to create this fashion narrative. To the viewer it may seem that due to the lack of individuality of each frame (including the facial expression and posing, background setting and tight framing of the photograph) that this is not about a serial killer but rather a voodoo doll.
Designer, Sarah Burton decided to continue the concept and created a fashion film to go along with the campaign images. This short fashion film, unlike the campaign images, was extremely successful. It not only follows a spin-off of the dark voyeuristic film but also displaying and showing the movement of the fashion while moving through derelict surroundings. (Jones 2014; Yatzer 2014) In parts of the film the fashion becomes secondary to the narrative however this is to keep the film in a linear form.
For the photographic campaign to be considered a narrative the fashion images need to incorporate similar actions, backgrounds, framing and characters as seen in the short fashion film for a successful reproduction of the British thriller film. The campaign images themselves however do give off a similar emotion to the short fashion film and display Alexander McQueen’s designs successfully to the viewer. Overall the photographs that were chosen may seem misleading to the viewer based on the inspiration the fashion house had for the campaign.
-Alexander McQueen Spring Summer 2014 Campaign Film, video, viewed 23rd August 2015
Chann, N 2014, Fashion: The Power of Narrative: Kate Moss in Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2014 Campaign by Steven Klein, Cut & Copy, 30th January, viewed 23rd August 2015, <https://fashionphantasmagoria.wordpress.com/>
Yatzer, 2014, Dying For McQueen: Kate Moss Stars In Steven Klein’s Videos For Alexander McQueen SS14, Yatzer, 27th January, viewed 23rd August 2015, <https://www.yatzer.com/dying-mcqueen-kate-moss-stars-steven-kleins-video-alexander-mcqueen-ss14>
Jones, S. 2014, Alexander McQueen weaves surreal tale to enliven spring campaign, Luxury Daily, 28th January, viewed 23rd August 2015, <http://www.luxurydaily.com/alexander-mcqueen-weaves-surreal-tale-to-enliven-spring-campaign/>
Stern, J. n.d., Kate Moss Poses For Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2014 Campaign, Pursuitist, n.d., viewed 23rd August 2015, <http://pursuitist.com/kate-moss-poses-alexander-mcqueen-springsummer-2014-campaign/>
Berry, J 2015, ‘Contemporary Fashion: Fashion Photography: From Heroin Chic to Narrative Glamour’, retrieved from Griffith University, Queensland College of Art, Learning@Griffith website, viewed 23rd August 2015, < https://bblearn.griffith.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-1510366-dt-content-rid-5018995_1/courses/2432QCA_3155_SB/Course%20Content/Week%204%20Contemporary%20Fashion%20Photography/Week%204%20fashion%20photo.pdf>
Campbell, D 2010, Photography and narrative: What is involved in telling a story?, David Campbell, 18th November, viewed 23rd August 2015, < https://www.david-campbell.org/2010/11/18/photography-and-narrative/>