Since time immemorial, we have received missives from a person called The Earl Grey, the greatest social documentarian of our time. This one is the whoppingest, most stellar one yet—an awards show unto itself of the year in fashion spreads. Warning: Along the way, space and time collapse and capital letters disappear!
#1: W FEB 2007:
MariaCarla shot by Juergen Teller in Venice. Just amazing, Fabulous. Teller's 2006 W shoot with Shalom, Malgosia & Dondoe was one of the very best of the year [#2 in my ranking] and this Venice edit has a lot of the same attributes. While 06's was shot in a beautiful Paris apartment, this is in a stunning Venetian manor that looks like it could date to the 19th century. Also, remember another Teller W shoot with Gisele in Paris, climbing the walls & generally at a high emotional pitch [much sexier than Iselin's dumb faces in above edit]? Well in this shoot, MariaCarla's poses simply out-model Gisele's in that great edit, with the added environmental beauty of the classical Venetian palazzo, mixed in with the hyper-real, slightly bizarre set-pieces & psychological paces that Teller puts his models through. MariaCarla is a very famous model of this century, but even with her fame & success, she does not get the plaudits she so deserves. Her performance here is so charming, so alluring, Teller & stylist Camilla Nickerson chose her perfectly for these haunting & off-kilter pictures. There is nudity here, but more importantly a sensuous magnetism from MariaCarla that is totally enrapturing, I don't know any other American magazine that features sophisticated, nuanced sensuality of this calibre & that's why W is the best American mag of any genre. I'll just describe a few standout pics here that have to be seen to grasp the full impact of Mariacarla's beauty & Teller's unique artistic gift:
* Maria topless in an Armani silk skirt & huge McQueen hat with an antique rug, marble walls & candles.
* cool wooden wolf mask & circus ringleader sculptures - Teller photographs lots of the decor & artworks of the palazzo & it adds so much atmosphere
* Maria in Etro dress with hands behind her back; a Jesus crucifixion oil painting above her. Notice how this story and the D&G shoot share certain themes of religion & ancient Italian culture - and bondage for Maria in this pic - these shared themes make the photos & stories in this magazine so much deeper, truly Classical in their aesthetic & emotional impact.
* there are some still lifes of ripening pomegranates, lemons, and other fruits arranged in a bowl, again like a 19th century artwork.
* Maria in a huge, tall, panelled library with ancient books, on all fours atop an ornate carved-wood table, in Versace swimsuit & high heels, under an amazing chandelier. This Is HOTT!!!! One of the pictures of the year.
* 1940s oil painting, framed on wall, of an elegant woman applying lipstick - elongated, almost Modigliani-esque, super chic portrait & atmosphere
* Maria in Tahari & Givenchy, underneath a 30 foot high ceiling with bold exposed beams, stunning 19th century European architecture & warm wood-tones.
* Maria topless, legs spread atop a side table in white caftan and Kiki black panties. Maria's legs & bearing here are OUTRAGEOUSLY sexy- too much. One of the sexiest pics of the year.
* 2 coffee cups on an antique wooden table, cappuccino foam still inside- I love Teller's use of found props & atmosphere here!!
* Maria sitting in thick mud pool in silk Moschino dress, her hands are so cute like she just sat down in the mud & can't believe Teller is putting her through this. <3
* close up on Maria's face, from the Etro Jesus page, wearing Ellen Christine lace as a veil. Maria's eyes are the most amazing shining brown, her beauty & expression are supernatural, translucent. Camilla Nickerson's styling here is off the charts, transforming every look & picture into pure art. Like Weber's Kate Moss Detroit W story [my #1 of 2006], Maria's modelling here is spectacular, throwing herself into each set piece & image like a total pro, yet transforming each documentary picture into something more. It truly is acting in still images, directed by Teller and costumed by Nickerson.
* Maria on the bed in D&G gold bodysuit & Treacy hat, shot from above, her legs & ass look so hot here.
* a bizarre & sexy full page of scissors, olive forks & OTHER SCARY & NAUGHTY SUGGESTIVE CUTLERY. many are phallic, all are scary & suggestive of ancient & draconian uses or even torture. Hotness.
* Maria in LV blazer, Chanel short shorts & Agent garters & hose. Posed against tapestry wallpaper, rich marble & stone floor, a fantastically sensuous image.
* Maria in pretty white Valli muslin/organza dress, like a perfect brunette pastry standing on pebbles in the driveway. The contrast of girly Maria & the unusual driveway setting is exactly like the surreal '06 edit with Dondoe & Shalom- Teller contributes some of the most striking images in any fashion magazine.
* Maria on the bed, her legs open wide, in Marc beaded silk organza dress. Impossibly sexy Maria with tousled hair.
* Maria apparently nude, only her pale perfect legs are shown, as she rides a flame-painted skateboard on the cold marble floor!!
* Maria sits on the floor, smoking a cigarette in cute Pejoski white silk satin dress.
* Maria in Prada cream nylon shirt & black cotton panties, her legs open as she sits on a radiator with grapes in her hand. This might be the hottest of all of these awesome pics. Maria's performance & the storyline of this edit are similar to Gisele's acting up in the Paris apartment 2 years ago, but truthfully Maria is a seductive, intelligent woman here, while Gisele was a manic, deranged animal in her shoot. Maria simply models rings around Gisele, but hasn't she always ?
* Maria sits on a table in Blumarine dress with LV corset on top - Camilla Nickerson's styling here is so brilliant, I can only imagine how much Anna Wintour misses her, since her defection to W 2 years ago. There's nothing like this in US Vogue on a photo or styling basis, the clothes, the atmosphere. Dick Page's genius messy hair & dramatic, vulnerable makeup here are just worlds beyond what Wintour gives the mass public monthly.
* Finally Maria's gorgeous bare back in poetic, flowing YSL silk organza white/purple dress, shot in what looks like the wine cellar of what must be a 100-200 year old palazzo. Teller made great use of the architectural details here, as worn as they are, they achieve a theatrical and palpable environmental affect which renders the pictures so much more effective. The apartment in Paris in 2006 W Dondoe/Shalom benefitted from a similar vibe, but this is even more pronounced. I really can't say enough about Maria's beauty, sensuality & modelling here, nor Teller's distinctive pics, Camilla's ultra-forward styling, and the general details & conception and realization of this edit overall. I was excited opening up the Feb. W, seeing klein's D&G shoot, but upon thorough investigation, this edit is considerably better. As soon as I saw Teller's Shalom/Dondoe 2006 edit, and Weber's Kate/Detroit edits, I knew they would end up among the top 5 or so of 2006. Something tells me that very few edits in 2007 are going to eclipse this one. Bonuses all around to Maria, Teller, Camilla & Page. rating 11 of 10.
#2: W MARCH 2007:
sasha by thompson. 50s/60s resort.swim suit looks. sasha is the best model by a considerable margin in this ish. i LOVE this retro surf bunny idea, [there was another spectacular NYLON edit in this idea about 3-4 years back with valerie avdeyeva.] i think this is cali/malibu, dramatic pacific ocean blue setting. karl templer styled, its as great as white's styling in b&w edit, maybe even better. best look/pic in ish is sasha in hot chloe swimsuit & topless, sexy sexy rear view. missoni & burberry swim looks also fabulous,. the retro flavour here, thompsons pitch perfect beach bunny pics & templers equally perfect retro swim styling are a major Wow. one of best edits of 2007 easily. 10 of 10
* oh its st barts. I'm crazy about sasha & this edit.
#3: BAZAAR SEPT:
coco by lindbergh. wow theme of 'bauhaus' - actually kasemir malevich's suprematist compositions- is absolutely stunning contrasted to brana wolf's fall looks. many pics have projections of malevich's artworks behind them. the most important abstract artworks in art history. kl used some of these designs a few years back on his dresses. wolf styles lots of sharp fall looks: narciso, molinari, missoni, etro, dell'acqua, ch, p/s, marc, val. every pic with the malevich backdrops is incredible, art & fashion together is so so strong! lindbergh's pics show this brilliantly— its at least as great as that mariacarla factory girl thing he did about 2 years ago. and coco is at her absolute best here- shes not always great, but shes cute & vulnerable here, amazing in these looks. narciso molinari marc & val pages are absolutely incredible. one of best edits Ive seen in 2007. 9.5 of 10.
#4: W FEB. 2007:
Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana, Shannon Click & Eva Herzigova shot by Steven Klein. Remember Klein's Tom Ford W edit with the plastic showroom dummies that was supposed to be 'sexy/bizarre' but was just ridiculous & dumb? Remember Klein's big W edit with Brad Pitt & Angie Jolie that was supposed to be risque & deep but actually just took 2 of the most famous, good-looking actors in the world and set them in a dark & senseless edit where the furniture & decor was the best thing about it? Well at last Klein has shot a major W edit that recalls the innovative & sexually-charged scenarios that made him famous in the 90s. This shoot, "Dolce & Vita" is perhaps the best-realized version of D&G's mindset & aesthetic ever captured in a fashion magazine. And as opposed to the silly Ford shoot and the drab Brad/Angel edit, this edit packs a serious sexual wallop, including overt homo-erotic images & true surrealist mystery, or even spiritual iconoclasm. And D&G themselves are in every picture here, thoroughly legit as models or actors in these very eye-popping and actually sexy set-pieces. It's a quite a contrast to the white-washed supposed 'lifestyle' D&G pieces in US Vogue where you see their sumptuous southern Italian getaway, but there's not even a hint in the text of the debauched, orgiastic, wanton, pan-sexual parties you just know they are hosting. [the Bazaar Batman cartoon stuff was cute but more juvenile than anything dangerous or sensuous.] Along with excellent turns by Shannon & Eva, there are 3 male models used here, each handsome & muscular, but the peroxide blonde one is the star of most of the set pieces. I'm not much of a fan of any male models, but these 3 are great & actually function as much as actors as models; also Stefano, particularly, is hotter here than I've ever seen him- he's really buff & in shape & he's the best male model of all. I guess I'll just briefly describe each photo as I interpret it - others are going to have their versions of the storyline here, but merely my surface version will be enough to explain how hot and suggestive each of these pics is:
* Stefano in tiny D&G black briefs, with his legs open on the bed, and wearing sparkly woman's high-heeled shoes! This comes off as both humourous & sexy, not an easy balance!
* Domenico is nude in a chair, sitting by a bed with a muscular peroxide blonde male model in white briefs & a Sgt Pepper military jacket
* peroxide male in a black suit squeezes Shannon's bare tit - she's in nude panties & her body is awesome. While Eva is on her knees, kissing Stefano's chest as he reclines on the bed.
* on the beach in Portofino, model's high heel stabs into domenico's chest as he lays on the beach . Looks more like Shann's leg to me.
* bare ass Shannon [again such a hot body!] squeezes Eva's bare tit, as Eva rubs Shann's bare ass. Stefano massages crotch of peroxide model in black suit. [this is a lot more dramatic & also a lot more real/sex than anything in the Ford or Jolie edits & that is an understatement. Theres a dramatic boudoir lighting to many of these pics that is much better stage-craft than the Jolie edit - that shoot was too dark & the pics even seemed blurry at times.
* peroxide male stradles Shann [nude except for panty] on the bed while nude Eva watches, & besuited Domenico watches too. I LOVE the black suits, white shirts & black ties on the men in this edit- it's a standard D&G uniform but somehow contrasts brilliantly with all the pink flesh - & theres a LOT of flesh here !!!
* D&G bare chested in hot white jeans seem to be binding Shann, in a hottie black corset, like tightening her corset to a painful degree? This may be an allusion to some movie or something, but anyway it's really HOT & really kinky - the corset ropes are a clear bondage-type fantasy- sure looks like 2 on 1 s&m to me ! I think submissive Shann is being tied up it looks very naughty. In the context of this edit, this scene seems to suggest abduction and even a final scene for Shann, a murder scene?
* super buff Stefano in tiny black bikini flexes on the beach, with 2 muscleboys admiring in the distance. This is WAYYY more homo-erotic than the Ford edit ever got & I am loving the idea of the squares at Conde Nast getting a look at what the kooky, reprobate, bad boys & girls at Fairchild cooked up for them in 2007 ! In the context of this edit this seems to suggest Stefano's living in some type of super-male-dominated world, he's a very strong male figure here.
* some type of religious/cinematic scene, maybe a funeral? A Pope Benedict character [very close approximation in clothes, face & gesture] seems to either be conducting a blessing, or forgiveness for Dolce, who wears black jacket, tie & white jeans. DD's gesture looks like seeking forgiveness. Peroxide male is bare-ass at left edge. Eva in mournful black with funeary shroud. Stefano sits on the right in white with cel phone ! This also looks like a famous Renaisance painting, or film scene,,,anyway it's mysterious, iconoclastic, cinematic & effectrively spooky- again Klein tried to go much deeper with this edit than he usually does & it totally succeeds- these are much more evocative & surreal, arty images than one normally sees in a fashion mag- almost like a film scene or even archetypal images from a painting in the history of art. Very Fellini- Bergman- esque too. Is it a funeral? Or Domenico seeks forgiveness but the Pope says there's nothing he can do ?? Looks like DD asks forgiveness, Pope can't do anything for him, and Eva is mourning a death- Shann's from earlier image?
* 2 male models, super buff , and Shannon, all three totally nude but covering their privates with their hands, and Stefano in black suit & tie & hotty glasses. Did i mention that Shann's body is amazingly hot in this edit? Her face might be made up, doll like / death mask [hello Lisa Cant] but her body is banging !!
Hard to place specific meanings on this edit but this final image appears to be some type of an after- life or a rebirth or new beginning for Stefano with born-again type nudes of Shann & 2 males. Looks like Shann has been brought back to life- reborn, there is a Garden of Eden allusion with the modesty pose, and Stefano looks super hot again in the suit & glasses.
ANYWAY you get the idea: W has once again pushed the boundaries of fashion & art photography in a mass-market US magazine. Klein has delivered his best shoot I've seen since his Vogue robot/Conservatory Garden stuff like 4 years ago. When Shannon Click debuted like 3 years ago I liked her, but then she disappeared? Well with Richard Kern's awesome Click edit in Dec/Jan Nylon, & now this being even better,, Shannon is suddenly back in the fight as a major US/world model for 2007. She is wayyy hot here & even Eva, who I really thought was dead, is used brilliantly here. The male models are 3 of the best I've seen in years [I usually hate male models] and Stefano is a better male model than they are. A brilliant depiction of the glamorous, dangerous, sexy and perverse D&G aesthetic- best I've ever seen in any magazine. Makes last year's US Vogue D&G Portofino travelogue look like pathetic, fake kid's stuff by comparison
** Additional thoughts: Patti Wilson edited, presumably she collaborated with Klein & D&G on these set pieces & clothes- I'm very impressed with the psychology & clothing/non-clothing here, it rises above a Versace, Vegas-y cheap-nude glamour to a deeper sensuality & sophistication that I see as more-Armani-esque. W's notes see this shoot as a reflection of D&G's Italian roots & mindset & it truly succeeds in that - much more so than earlier versions in US Vogue & elsewhere. Also W pinpoints allusions to Fellini, Visconti & Passolini- 3 great italian art film figures, & given the evocative & Classical stagecraft here, I think that ambitious cinematic aspiration has been achieved brilliantly. Great, great edit, I love it. rating 9.5 of 10 .
#5: JULY W:
lara stone, irina & larisa kulikova by juergen teller in kiev. Teller is shooting the best work in W in 2007, with this edit, & even better his mariacarla venezia edit which i think is the best of 2007 so far in a u.s. magazine. W also has inez/vinoodh, mert/marcus, weber & some good mcdean, but teller is out-doing all of them with these radical & individual shoots. there's a lot going on here: a fascinating tourist-underworld travelogue of kiev russia. extremely erotically-charged poses & storyline with these models and clothes [mariacarla edit had it too]. truly forward styling/editing by camilla nickerson [you can only imagine how anna wintour seethes when she sees camilla rocking this hard in W monthly, running rings around trite commercial us vogue editing]. and teller's unique framing, mindset, & imagination, which is very newton-esque in many cases. and lara & the kulikova's rock really hard here, in eye-catching bodysuit/lingerie looks coupled with luxe jackets/tops - nickerson just thinking outside the box and the girls making it work. lara is at her best here, when shes at this level she looks like easy top 5 model of 2007. beautiful, wildly sexy, and poised even in these unusual looks & some outdoor settings. with the russian theme, the kulikovas work great too, particularly irina i think is just about as great as lara here. every picture is awesome & adds to the story/visual effect. lara is out of this world in every pic, incl prada/eres; balenciaga/agent [amazing!], versace/vagin pouvoir [maybe best pic in issue], herrera/D&G, & armani/eres/agent. also love irina in BV, landau/chloe, CH/american apparel [and I HATE american apparel!], cdg, & Ralph/aa. its amazing how everything works here, and in a challenging script. teller's photos are exemplary 2007 or beyond fashion pics, lara & irina excel, and camilla also takes the styling to a whole other universe than one sees in any other US mag. really superb RATING 9.5 of 10.
#6: W MAY 2007:
lara stone & sheila marquez by sorrenti. sorrenti can be inconsistent but he's great here. this is exactly the type of shoot he excels at: a sensuous shadow lit set piece with sexy looks, here its body suits. W deserves a lot of credit for its pushing the envelope with nudity here, but as always its tasteful and totally succeeds within the terms of this shoot. lara stone is totally rocking she is basically already a top 10 girl of 2007 and lets see how much higher shell go by years end., shiela marquez also pleasant surprise here, she looks a lot like freja and thats a complement, with maybe a bit of lilliana dominguez thrown in. alex whites styling here as usual some of the best in the world. i cant get over how hot stone is here, elegant yet primordially sexy at the same time. every pic & look is great but especially these: lanvin shoes. herrera turtle. LV sweater. marc gloves, burberry sweater. marc sweater. cant say enough here about dappled atmospheric pics, bravura models & creative & involving styling. one of best edits Ive seen in 2007. RATING 9.5 of 10.
#7: W DECEMBER 2007:
raquel and suvi by mcdean. this is an absolutely superb studio shoot. it really makes all the Vogue 'girls jumping' studio shoots look dumb. when mcdean is on top of his game, he's about as good as any editorial fashion fotog, and this edit is at that level. the models help a lot, raquel of course is so often fabulous, but actually suvi pretty much equals her here, in fact some may give suv the edge. plus alex white's styling here is equally world class, i pretty much love every look incl CDG, ysl, chanel, undercover, mcqueen, ralph, D&G, V&R, its just all top shelf. raqu in mac might be best pic so thats why i give her the nod. but suv in valli & ralph also great so hard to say. notice the way a simple prop like a light bulb moving from ceiling to floor makes this interesting, the lighting, the makeup, all the diff angles, its just a fab edit in every way. its one of the best ive seen in 07 and the girls might be even better than mcdean but its so close. 9.4 of 10
#8: W APRIL 2007:
hilary rhoda by inez & vinoodh. this edit really blows away anything else in this ish. its simple: its rhoda by the pool at night in the hollywood hills. alex white styled another incredible story but these looks are just better than the rest in this ish- its tip top level couture evening looks. and rhoda shows something here Ive never seen from her. she simply throws herself into the looks & the picture motions like Ive never seen before from her. when rhoda first came out i thought she was a finely-cut american model, recalling an ali macgraw type sophistiocation yet wholesomeness. well shes just more vivid & sexier here than before. once again everything works here- white's styling is just amazing- great great evening looks like valentino couture, chanel couture [hottest pic], ralph bronze lame dress, saab, chanel, JPG, and a beautiful lilac blumarine. inez & vonoodh take the sweet ingredients of the poolside setting, the lights of hollywood behind, rhoda's exertions/sesnsuousness, and stunningly arty couture clothes, and make it work even better via these photos - interesting horizontal compositions. whatever sushi they ate that night worked wonders cos its the best rhoda has ever been & I am blown away by the colours of these pics. it also recalls a teller-like documentarianism with the pool chair & in your face familiar setting, but maybe its unfair to even say its juergen teller-like - its just inez & vinoodh being as great as they have ve so often been. this edit really kicks ass & it shines above the rest of the quality stuff in the mag. bonuses all around to rhoda, inez & vionoodh & espec white for their fantastic work here. 9+ of 10 an exemplary evening/couture edit.
#9: AUGUST W:
alana zimmer, irina kulikova, anna maria urazhevskaya & olga sherrer shot by thompson. now THIS is why W is america's best magazine. a fab group of 4 new-ish girls, made up, wioth hair, and posed like mature ladies, maybe 50 or more years old. and in age appropriate clothes that also look like some of the most sophisticated & forward fall looks that youre going to enjoy in any fash mag this year. karl templer styled, he's sooo much better than white just comparing these two edits in this ish. and thompson really stepped it up with a classic studio style that recalls Horst & Penn circa 1940s/50s. its THAT great!!! every look is great but ultimate standouts incl: ck dress. dior purple silk. gucci, ysl, armani jacket/dress [best look?], marc, jil/val, agnona/marc/lim, lv purple jacket [wow!!!], and ralph purple taffeta blouse. the jewel tones here are out of this world grown up top level fall 2007 looks !@!!!! as much as i hated edit #1 this edit brings me back around to LOVING W & thompson outdoes himself!! LOVE the girls casting & templer's looks 110%!!!! wowo!!!! 9+ of 10 one of best edits of 2007 !!!!
#10: :VOGUE DEC. 2006:
trentini in montauk, elgort shot it, peter beard story. trentini makes a great cheryl tiegs , chris clarke looks exactly like peter beard & ive met peter beard. awesome fully realized shoot. grace coddington again, its just brill with trentini evoking tiegs' loose 70s casual airy natural style, the montauk seetings breathtaking, and trini wearing all these nautical looks that are fucking top. also the art direction with collaging various images on the page is a lot like beard's photo/collage style. big props to beard for his animal-love & conservation since 1960s in africa. hes the thinking mans prep, i love him. elgort is booming here, pics are just as great as webers similar kate moss amagansett shoot this fall in vogue. like penn & coddington, elgort is another total MVP in vogue that turns in the best work every month while others like liebowitz get too much attention. this edit is so fucking good from the pics to the clothes to trentini to the beard/tiegs story to the art direction. subtle & understated but still one of best us vogue stories of autumn 2006. 9 of 10 . and I LOVE trentini shes my #3 model of 2006 after sasha & julia. <3
- The Earl Grey, 10021