Not For The Sqeamish

We know Alexander McQueen has a thing for animals, particularly reptiles. So it is not surprising to see them featured in his newest ad. Shot by Nick Knight, who had collaborated with the designer to broadcast his last ready-to-wear show live via the Net, the photograph shows an unfazed Raquel Zimmermann camouflaged and entwined in a bed of snakes–s0 many of them that they would make Indiana Jones go as limp as his whip.

I can’t be certain but if this is meant to be some kind of Eve and the serpent tableau, then it’s temptation of biblical proportion indeed! To be enticed by one snake is bad enough, to give in to so many ensures expulsion from the garden of Eden many times over.

Amid the the reptilian crowd, we can barely make out the “armadillo” shoes, by now a footwear cliche, if ever there was such a thing. Ms Zimmermann is wearing some kind of a body suit with a print of jungle fauna and flora that makes the unusually colourful snakes look like perfectly natural inhabitants.

A picture such as this, I suspect, will strike fear in the hearts of models-to-be. It may propagate the belief that modeling assignments are difficult, and potentially dangerous. As we have seen again and again in America’s Next Top Model, the uninitiated are led to imagine that in a photo shoot, clothes are not all a model needs to wear–she also has to bed animals or dangle from dizzying heights.

Mr Knight’s picture brought to my mind Natasha Kinski and the serpent that came between her in a picture shot by the late Richard Avedon for a 1981 issue of Vogue. Last year, Chistie’s managed to sell a print of it for almost 15,000 USD. Ms Kinski’s partnership with the boa constrictor was

remarkable at that time not only because she gave new meaning to the beauty and beast alliance, but also because the photograph appeared around the same time a 15-year-old Brook Shields declared in a Calvin Klein commercial, “Nothing comes between me and my Calvins”!

Serpents in fashion are as old as the use of their skins as fabric. When Gianni Versace installed Medusa’s head as a logo for his  brand, snakes, as icons, went  mainstream. Cuteness was no longer necessary as a marketing symbol. Mr Versace was reported to have said that the Medusa, to him, represented “seduction”. But we know what happens to seducers!


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