Is Vogue Paris in for a directional change? And is it for the best? That’s the question that has been on just about everybody’s lips since Emmanuelle Alt replaced Carine Roitfeld as editor-in-chief of the print media title. So it is that every issue that Alt releases to the public is not solely digested, but is picked apart with fervour. And today that process of critique, a critique applied to few other titles, is taking place all over again with the release of the magazine’s June / July 2011 issue. While the usual feedback on everything from the cover to the editorial will be posted across the webosphere, it seems most pertinent to take a look at one of the issue’s lead photo shoots, one that Alt both oversaw as editor-in-chief and personally styled, in order to answer the question of whether or not Vogue Paris is moving backwards.

Starring Isabeli Fontana with a cropped hairstyle reminiscent of a young in a Sophia Loren, a quick social media search will show you that it didn’t take long for readers of the issue to draw comparisons between this shoot and others which have come before it, particularly 1989’s Cuba pictorial featuring Linda Evangelista and lensed by Steven Meisel.

So the Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott-photographed shoot isn’t exactly original. Thus there are two questions raised: first, is the photo shoot, none the less, any good? And secondly, does the lack of outright originality matter?

isabeli fontana vogue paris

Click the thumbnails for full pictures:
Isabeli Fontana: Vogue Paris June/July '11
Isabeli Fontana: Vogue Paris June/July '11
Isabeli Fontana: Vogue Paris June/July '11
Isabeli Fontana: Vogue Paris June/July '11
Isabeli Fontana: Vogue Paris June/July '11
Isabeli Fontana: Vogue Paris June/July '11
Isabeli Fontana: Vogue Paris June/July '11
Isabeli Fontana: Vogue Paris June/July '11
Isabeli Fontana: Vogue Paris June/July '11
Isabeli Fontana: Vogue Paris June/July '11
Isabeli Fontana: Vogue Paris June/July '11
Isabeli Fontana: Vogue Paris June/July '11
Isabeli Fontana: Vogue Paris June/July '11

To answer the latter, fashion is circular. It inspires but is itself inspired, and that’s a fact that is as true of the work of stylists and editors such as Alt as it is of fashion designers and everyone else within the industry. Sometimes the inspiration is abstract, sometimes it’s direct – but when each of us is directly inspired, no matter what our field, that’s not to say that we’re conscious of the fact. Thus it’s unfair to judge Alt by this one photo shoot, and instead you can only fairly critique her work as Vogue Paris‘s editor on the basis of the whole issue (if not several).

Returning to the first question, that of the quality of the photo shoot, we think it’s well executed, well styled, and well photographed. Its biggest failing is that it doesn’t do anything to go above and beyond on the emotional scale and thus feels somewhat flat, but in every issue of a magazine there are certain to be photo shoots that talk to one person and not another. If anything, the larger thing that strikes us as being amiss in the pictorial is the abundance of crop tops. While we’re all for the a spring 2011 trend, it’s a style that conflicts with Alt’s desire to make Vogue Paris an aspirational title for the “real life”, everyday woman.

Truth be told, we see plenty of pictorial concepts reinterpreted time and again but we seldom pick them apart simply because of that fact. So what is the real issue here? Emmanuelle Alt‘s promotion to the helm of Vogue Paris is a contentious one. Few people know the full truth of the matter, but it was a promotion that caused bad blood between Alt and Carine Roitfeld, and bad blood spills over. So it is that fans of Carine Roitfeld’s Vogue Paris want to see the title continue to push boundaries and don’t want the title to change and become ‘real’. Sadly, others still want Alt’s work rubbished ‘just because’ so headstrong is their love of brand Roitfeld. On the other side of the coin, and fairly, Alt’s promotion to editor-in-chief of the fashion magazine that arguably changed thing has left her open to high expectations, and as such she can’t afford to be seen as putting a foot wrong let along lacking originality two issues in a row.

Of course, whether or not the pictorial is a hit or a miss is also for you to decide and we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. You can see the full Canicule photo shoot first by clicking on the thumbnails. You can also view the Linda Evangelista shoot that this most recent pictorial is being compared to at that link.

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