Um, wow. I was pretty excited for the latest NARS collaboration with fashion photographer Guy Bourdin...until I actually started looking at his portfolio. As a feminist I found it troubling, to say the least. As someone who enjoys art and fashion, I can appreciate how groundbreaking Bourdin was in terms of fashion photography. And I understand why Francois Nars chose him as inspiration for this collection, as it was Bourdin's work that inspired Nars to become a makeup artist - the way he captured the rich, saturated hues in many of his photos was truly genius. I recognize that the collection isn't meant to glamourize violence against women but rather to celebrate the bold colors in Bourdin's work.
I'd say about half of the Bourdin photos I've seen portray violence against women, and another sizeable portion seem to signify that women are nothing more than blow-up dolls to be used and discarded. I could even consider overlooking these disturbing images if they were part of a larger body of work that didn't glorify dead/objectified women, but I found nearly all of his photos to be fairly repugnant. I could also perhaps consider separating the images from Bourdin himself - just because his photos dehumanize women doesn't necessarily mean he is a misogynist. Unfortunately, that's not the case on that front either. He was just as anti-woman as you would suspect from his photos. Maybe it's because I'm from a different generation. In the '70s these images would have been considered "daring" and "pushing the envelope". In 2013, using offensive pictures to sell something isn't a novel idea. The "edginess" of showing a woman stuffed headfirst into a trashcan has long worn off; this image and others like it are solely abhorrent.
In my cursory research on the matter I found that I'm not alone in my dismissal of this collaboration. These bloggers said it better than I could, so rather than write any more about this I encourage you to read their thoughts on the topic: Temptalia and InTruBeauty.
What do you think? Will you be passing on this collection?