Tag Archives: Mario Testino

Kate Middleton, Fashion Vampire

Vogue UK has decided to celebrate its 100th Anniversary with a cover so lifeless, a doctor would solemnly tell its loved ones, “The best we can do is make it comfortable… it’s just a matter of time.”

A magazine known for being a glamorous sumptuous feast of fashion decided that one hundred years was long enough and went full-on dull duchess.

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Vogue UK made a point to note, “Having participated in choosing not only the clothes worn in the shoot and the locations used as a backdrop, but also the photographer who captured the images, the Duchess was pleased with the resulting feeling of informality in the final shots.”

In other words, it’s not Vogue’s fault.  Kate decided to go all Jecca Craig on the cover on her own.

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This isn’t the first time Kate has sartorially referenced her romantic rival.  Back in August 2005, Kate wore an outfit similar to her Vogue cover to the Gatcombe Park Festival.

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That was a few months after Prince William dumped Kate for “more space” which quickly took the form of Jecca.

Many were surprised Kate had decided to do Vogue UK since five years ago several magazines were clamoring to feature the royal bride with Anna Wintour of Vogue US vigorously campaigning to have the duchess on the US cover, reportedly involving photographer Mario Testino in her crusade without success.  At the time a Palace aide noted, “Both William and Kate feel it would be wrong for Kate to promote herself as a fashion or style icon.  That’s not what they are about and they take their royal duties far too seriously to, in one sense, trivialize them.”

Apparently Kate finally realized no one is buying her as someone who takes her duties seriously so she might as well pose for Vogue, but in the drabbest clothing possible so no one could accuse her of trying to be a style icon.

Of course, British royals on the cover of Vogue UK is nothing new.

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Kate’s the first one, though, daring enough to embrace the bland sterility of a back-to-school clothing sale circular in the Sunday paper.  One editor quoted in The Daily Beast noted, “I think it’s an atrocious cover—especially for one that should be celebrating a momentous anniversary. 100 years of Vogue—a magazine that has published some of greatest, most groundbreaking photography and they use a bland Kay’s catalogue image.”

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The Vogue shoot was said to be a collaboration between the magazine and The National Portrait Gallery of which Kate is Royal Patron.  Two of the photos from the  shoot taken by photographer Josh Olins were hung as part of the gallery’s Vogue 100: A Century of Style.  This screen grab from The Guardian comes from an article entitled Kate’s Vogue shots shouldn’t be in a gallery. They’re not art.

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Reaction to the Indiana Jecca look was not positive overall, with fans taking to The Royal Family’s Facebook page to note that Kate looks very unKate:

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Although perhaps the real issue was that the photographer captured Kate’s essence a little too well.

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Others found the shoot itself in poor taste or inappropriate.

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Comments in the Daily Mail criticized Kate not having the time for her duties but plenty to spare for a photo shoot.

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On Twitter, royal correspondents and photographers were also critical of the photos.

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Kate’s Vogue hit the stands on Tuesday.  The rest of the photos are as equally uninspired, shot in January against a barren beige backdrop in Norfolk selected by Kate.

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Kate’s vision was for the spread to reflect her “private existence”, just not with her usual jeggings paired with one of her numerous black and white striped shirts or solid jumpers she normally wears, instead opting to protect her sartorial privacy by wearing an equally bland collection of contrived casual country clothing.

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Glamorous gowns and jewels set against the neutral winter country setting would have made for visually interesting photographs with the juxtaposition of elements representing the dual nature of Kate’s life.  Had Kate been wary of an overt display of opulence because of the criticism she’s faced over her pampered taxpayer-funded luxury lifestyle in a time of austerity, she could have still incorporated elements that would reflect more of who she is as a person or how her life has changed since joining the royal family five years ago.  One word Kate seems fond of lately is “surreal”.  Perhaps the media attention makes Kate feels like she exists in a sort Wonderland which could have been subtly referenced by her wearing a simple light blue dress with a black hair band while she sipped tea or sat at a table with cards in front of her.  Beyond a bicycle, there are no props in these photos to even indicate what she does with the vast majority of her time which is spent out of the public eye.  No camera hanging from a strap around her neck to represent her interest in photography, no children’s toys casually left on the lawn to hint at her identity as a mother, with the exception of Lupo in one photo, there are no other signs of life, not even smoke coming from a distant chimney to suggest a family which waits for her indoors.  It’s just simply a generically pretty airbrushed Kate, wearing entirely forgettable clothing in a beigely barren winter landscape.

The only possible hint at Kate’s personal interests is a curiously included shot in the magazine which caused a bit of social media buzz as people wondered if they were really seeing what they thought they were.

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Emily Andrews noted the picture was too blurry to positively ID what exactly was going on with the back of Kate’s jeans.  The picture is pretty fuzzy, but this is the area in question:

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Has Kate included a partial moon in her Vogue spread to show her cheeky side or is it perhaps something completely innocuous like a scarf tied around her waist with a pattern resembling butt cleavage?

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Kate’s True Colours

On Wednesday, Kate Middleton showed her true colours and took a break from her extended maternity leave to enjoy the royal perk of prime Wimbledon seats.  Dressed in a new vibrant red LK Bennett dress with a new haircut and what looks to be new hair extensions, Kate’s appearance seemed like a classic post-break-up f.u. move, getting all glammed up in attention-grabbing red with altered locks to symbolize a new chapter in life while dancing to Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive on the inside in order to show the ex it’s his loss.

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I’m not really sure what split in Kate’s mind could have provoked this classic Kate break-up move. Kate never even flirted with Work so it’s not like that relationship could have ended and if Kate and Sense of Duty ever were really together, it obviously ended ages ago.  Kate and Black Eyeliner are still hot and heavy and going by recent paparazzi photos, Kate and Jeggings are still very much an item.  Perhaps Kate finally ended it with Pretending to Care, a pre-emptive strike against those who would question why Kate couldn’t be bothered showing up at the 7/7 Memorial the day before but could be coaxed out of extended maternity leave in order to sit in the Royal Box at Wimbledon.

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Do you have any chloroform on you, Darling? I want to invite Andy Murray over to Anmer to play.

Unfortunately, the Palace does still have to promote the whole Kate Charade and scramble for ways to hide the fact that Kate can’t be bothered with the responsibilities that came with the Duchess title for which she waited around eight years to have.  Even though Kate is on extended maternity leave for which she doesn’t work enough to qualify, the Palace is hard at work creatively padding her event numbers because her paltry annual engagement totals are always at the bottom of the family’s list.  The birth of Charlotte and Sunday’s christening showed up in the Court Circular as official engagements for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

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Granted, being in labor is the closest thing Kate will ever get to work, but a private christening attended by twenty-two people from which even members of the British Royal Family were excluded counts as an official engagement?  Seriously?  Because they permitted the commoners to wait out in the rain for the honor of looking at their Royal High Horses on their way to a private ceremony?

Four of Princess Charlotte’s christening photos taken by Mario Testino were released this week and they are the perfect metaphor for the Cambridge’s overly-manipulated image that has been distorted to a state of lifeless awkwardness.

Testino was Princess Diana’s favorite photographer, his photos for Vanity Fair were the last portraits for which she sat prior to her death.  He is a highly sought-after photographer, not only for those still seeking anything with a Diana association, but because Testino has one well-honed talent: he makes women look skinnier.

In the group photo, there’s a bit of a fun house effect happening.  Something feels off about it and it’s not until you start to examine it that you see what Testino has done.  Not only has Testino PhotoShopped the Middletons and Windsors into candy-coated perfection, he has moved the subjects and altered the background.

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This is a shot of the Drawing Room at Sandringham, the door on the left in between the two lit sconces is where the group photo was taken.

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That door is significantly smaller in the christening photo, reduced by Testino to one narrow panel, and the lighting fixtures were removed as the entire backdrop was compacted to create an artificial feeling of togetherness between the subjects, some digital slight of hand to artificially manufacture that which the photographer was unable to capture.

Testino cut each figure out, modified them and pasted them into the altered background.  He didn’t get the positioning of the feet correct, though, I have drawn a vertical line using Pippa’s and Carole’s feet as the starting point which should bisect them down the middle.

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Obviously Pippa’s head is turned but if you look at her neck, you can see how far Testino was off when recompiling the elements of the photo, his tinkering also left Pippa’s chest looking like she’s at Picasso levels of lopsided.  With Carole, he’s slightly less off.  And I’m not sure why there is a glowing red line under the couch in the back, perhaps it was left to distract from the pic’s patchwork or maybe it is meant to symbolize the love between William and Kate that is so passionate and intense, it manifests as flaming carpet snakes.

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The beigeness of the Middleton family reportedly caused some issues for Testino who had to work around the Middletons matching their attire to Charlotte’s christening gown.  Pippa’s Emilia Wickstead dress was also too close in shade to the cream colored paint of Sandringham’s drawing room so Pippa had to be repositioned so that James’ dark sleeve could be used to delineate her arm.  A subtle shadow was also added along her nipped-in torso to help keep Pippa from looking like a floating head.

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Back in 2009, Mario Testino told a Telegraph reporter, “The magic comes when a sitter is not self-conscious.”  Too bad Pippa couldn’t make it work with George Percy, perhaps with access to Hogwarts, a little life could have been injected into Charlotte’s christening photos.

Since Charlotte’s christening counted as an official event, I wonder who is picking up Mario Testino’s substantial tab?  Whether the cost is met by the Royal Family or the taxpayer, these stale photographic crumbs were a rip-off and certainly not value for the money in a time of austerity.

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Princess Charlotte’s Christening

On Sunday July 5th, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana was christened at St. Mary Magdalene church where her grandmother, the late Princess Diana, was baptized in 1961.

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Dressed in the traditional royal christening gown, the 2008 replica made by Angela Kelly of the 1841 christening gown which had been worn by approximately sixty royal babies until it started disintegrating into lace dust, Princess Charlotte was brought to the church in a vintage pram borrowed from the Queen.  The pram had been used to bring Charles to his christening in 1948.

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Baptismal water was obtained from the Jordan River while the Lily Font which also dates back to the 1841 baptism of Victoria, Princess Royal, and the silver ewer from the 1735 christening of George III were brought to the Sandringham church from the Tower of London for Princess Charlotte’s christening.  Special cases had to be designed to transport the ewer and font because they had never left London before.  It was one of the few firsts for the second-born princess.  In fact, other than a selection of five non-royal godparents and a guest list pared down to a mere twenty-two attendees at the private ceremony, the kind of affront to royal etiquette the Cambridges have made the hallmark of their vision of a modern monarchy, the christening of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana was otherwise frozen in time. The christening, intended to honor the late Princess Diana, also appeared to be an attempt to summon her ghost.

Replicating a moment from Princess Diana’s life, Prince George was dressed as the sartorial doppelgänger of his father, Prince William, when visiting his mother and brand new brother Harry at the hospital.

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This isn’t the first time in recent weeks that Kate has dressed George in clothing identical to outfits the late Princess Diana selected for her own son.  Even if this started off as Kate wanting to please William by paying homage to his late mother, Kate appears to have veered off course and taken up residency in Creepytown which she is probably already redecorating.  Not only is the call coming from inside the house, it’s being made with a Ouija board.

While Kate has on many occasions referenced her late mother-in-law through fashion, the royal whose clothing she copied at Princess Charlotte’s christening was herself circa George’s christening.  At George’s christening, Kate and her sister Pippa appeared to match their cream-colored outfits to George’s christening gown in an attempt to reinforce their status within the British Royal Family.  At Charlotte’s christening, Kate once again went with a monochromatic christening combo of Alexander McQueen and a Jane Taylor hat, this time accessorizing with two matching Middletons.  Dressed in haunting ivory, the Middleton women formed a ghostly trio, spectral incarnations of MacBeth’s Weird Sisters with clutch bag cauldrons, ready to call forth the apparition of Diana.

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The Royal Mint coin commemorating Charlotte’s christening, the design for which William and Kate oversaw, included both her middle names and two of the flowers Diana loved most, roses and lilies.

charlotte&georgechristeningcoinsFrom the hiring of Princess Diana’s favorite photographer, Mario Testino, who took the last portraits that Diana ever sat for as the christening’s official photographer, to the selection of Diana’s niece as one of Charlotte’s five godparents, the christening celebration felt more like it drew inspiration from Tobin’s Spirit Guide and the Handbook for the Recently Deceased than it did from little sister Pippa’s Celebrate: A Year of Festivities for Families and Friends.  Even Nanny Maria in her Norland uniform had the unsettling appearance of an old sepia-toned photograph come to life using one of the spells in the arsenal of the Weird Sisters.

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It’s natural to want to make a gesture that honors the memory of a loved one who has passed in an important milestone event, it’s a way of including them.  It’s a delicate balance, though, paying homage to a lost loved one should always be done in a way that is also respectful to the living.  We have memorial services and funerals for the dead, christenings are celebrations of new life.  Lost loved ones are already a part of our joyous celebration because those who we love become a part of us, that bond can not be broken by death.

Many of those who believe in life after death have had moments where they feel as if someone they lost was with them somehow, often this happens around the holidays or other important times in their lives.   Spirits are just people without earthly shells, they are drawn to milestone celebrations like marriages and christenings to spend tie with their families as they would have in life, no engraved invitation or breadcrumb trail of mementos required.

Two and a half years ago at a christening held at St Martin’s Church in Canterbury, Kent, an unexpected guest was spotted in one of the baptism photos the Sewell family posted on Facebook, a ghostly apparition who bore a striking resemblance to the baptized baby’s grandfather who had committed suicide seventeen years earlier.  Terry Sewell’s widow, Heather, told the press, “It looks very much like Terry. I know there has been no photo trickery so it is all very spooky and perhaps not what you want to see at a Christening.”

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While maybe not everyone is thrilled to have their departed loved ones show up in the christening photos, I kind of think that if Princess Diana appears in any of the pics taken by Mario Testino, the Middletons would be cool with it.  In fact, I’m pretty sure Carole would make it her Christmas card.

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