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THE PLASTIC PEOPLE


When designer Tom Ford left Gucci a while back, he seemed to sink into a mid-life crisis with a series or morosely reflective interviews and then talked about going into the film business, becoming a director. It’s been a couple of years and no film is on the horizon, but Ford has just teamed with photographer Steven Klein, whose recent photos consciously draw upon the visual tropes of film narrative, to take off his clothes and do a W portfolio timed around the release of a makeup line for Estee Lauder.

Style.com has a preview in which Ford, who, from the photos seems to have been hanging out with David Cronenberg and the members of Kraftwerk, discusses his vision of today’s society:

“We’ve become plastic, objectifying the human body. We’re no longer animals. Women and men are so waxed and polished and buffed and shined up and manipulated. We don’t age. We’ve got these weird lips that don’t really look like lips. We’ve started to lose touch with what a real breast looks like; we’ve started to lose the animal side of our nature. It’s time to somehow pull it back to something more human. We treat women almost like cars. It’s happened over the last 25 years. When we were kids, it was lift and separate. Now, of course, Victoria’s Secret pushes it all together.

W: You’ve always said that looking good requires work — polish and a certain fakeness.

TF: But I’ve also always talked about why the Seventies were such an important moment to me — because there was a relaxed quality; bodies looked real. I think it had to do with the fact that back then you really could have sex. We used to watch sitcoms where people had one-night stands all the time, and we grew up thinking that that was okay. Today we have a more perverse look at sexuality, but stylized and almost fake. If you watch a porn film today versus a porn film from the Seventies, there’s something much sexier about the Seventies film because it’s more natural. Today it’s so stylized, sort of cartoonlike. But we’re in a cartoonlike moment. I mean, think of Angelina Jolie’s face. It looks like Lara Croft. She is exaggerated. Her lips are exaggerated. Our beauty standard today is cartoonlike, and it’s artificial. So the idea of all these dolls [in the shoot], we’re living in a world where there are humans who actually are just dolls. And the boys, are they dolls or are they human? They are in fact human, yet there are three of them so they’re all the same and they look like dolls. The fact is that men are moving toward the same plastic beauty. And it’s about me living in this world.”

Lest you think Ford is turning into some kind of cyber-era moralist, he later discusses “good plastic surgery,” which is basically about, well, good work:

“I’d like to see something more natural. I’m all for Botox, collagen, cosmetic surgery. But I’ve been wondering, Why can we send a man to the moon but we can’t make a breast look real? Then I encountered a girl the other day who had implants that really looked natural. She had nursed and her breasts changed, so she had it done, and her breasts looked just so amazing and so real. I’m all for manipulation to a certain extent, but I think it’s very important not to deny the fact that we are animals. We need to look human.”

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