Model Elena Sartison has this sweet and perfect face that looks like it could have been drawn to life by the pen of a Japanese Manga artist. Credit where credit is due: Giuseppe Giarratana’s hair and makeup – strong, straight brows and a crisp, cropped bob with bangs – do plenty to enhance the effect. But between the model’s god-given features and the artfully applied beauty look, she’s already that kind of innocence that could cut you to pieces with a samurai sword and a school-girl skirt.
Umberto Barone’s black and white shoot of Sartison brings all that out without ever bordering on cartoonish or taking the comic-book references too far. Instead it’s purely striking and fantastical, fierce and emotive, with graphic black and white patterns forming the backdrops and terrific – nay, incredible – styling by Alessandro Buzzi becoming the crowning glory to an elegantly simple, and simply superb, set of images.
What’s most wonderous about Barone’s shoot is that it does hold back. I’ve no idea if the creative team had any vision in mind that involved manga or sweet-yet-deadly protagonists, or whether the backdrops were meant to call to mind the light and shadow rippling through some Frank Miller-style graphic novel. It’s all so subtle that those things are mere suggestion, scattered seeds that different minds can interpret in different ways. Even Buzzi’s hardest styling choices – leather harnesses and over-the-knee cavalry boots – are kept sophisticated with no sign of the spikes and studs and obvious fierce elements that another stylist might have ventured into.
All the better for it. This is a suggestion of toughness you can wear every day. Whether you happen to look like a sweet-faced anime doll or not.
Just one of the gems from Bambi Magazine XIII, you can view all of Barone’s shoot by visiting the gallery above.