Kate Upton in front of the lens, Terry Richardson behind it. You can already imagine what the resulting photo shoot is like. Just scrub nudity you imagined in the images – Kate Upton may be a pin up, but I can’t think of a single photo shoot of hers that includes explicit nudity. She’s doesn’t do anything more. Maybe yet ought to be added to that sentence.
Like Richardson, Upton is something of an interesting figure within fashion. Lots of people within the industry love them both. Yet Upton is not the same style of model that fashion normally celebrates. A Karlie Kloss or a Natasha Poly she is not. You wouldn’t find Kloss or Poly in a burger advert for Carl’s Jr. and yet her rise continues. Continues as she pursues any work that plays to her pin up charms as opposed to pursuing only high fashion work. Continues as she is presented as little more than the sexy and voluptuous Kate Upton as opposed to being presented with the in your face PR and spin of Crystal Renn’s voluptuous days.
In this sense, Upton is not your average model.
A traditional one perhaps in the vintage sense, but certainly not in the same vein that we’ve grown used to in past decades. Which makes her different. And before anyone reaches for a placard to protest that that I’m criticising Kate Upton, understand that I’m not. Nor is this an ode to Upton. It is instead a pondering spurred on by her photo work with Terry Richardson.
At what point does the fashion industry, and society in general, decide that someone is simply cool? Or can be allowed to do all that they do? How does Upton remain a point of idolisation when other models would have been lampooned for signing to do a burger commercial? How does a model cum pin up girl reach a level in pop culture that they so quickly get invited to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (and how the hell was Lindsay Lohan invited for that matter?). Equally so, how does Terry Richardson remain such an accepted figure not only within the fashion industry but within society in general? Forget the accusations (innocent until proven guilty and all that), Terry Richardson is the photographer who has both photographed and published himself climaxing across the chest of a porn star and has also photographed the President of the United States. Repeatedly. Other photographers would do the first and never find themselves doing the second.
Other models would do a Carl’s Jr. advert and never get a good magazine cover again. Other photographers would make porn and never go near a President. They’re both very different factors, but both Upon and Richardson have overcome the normal patterns of the fashion industry and ‘polite’ society. The reached a level in pop culture that anything, seemingly, goes.
So what is the quality that both Upton and Richardson both share that allows them both to remain ‘cool’? Is it a different one? Or is it that intangible ‘it’ factor?
Though it doesn’t reveal any of it, you can see Terry Richardson‘s photos of Kate Upton by clicking on the thumbnails and browsing through the gallery.
Two shoots, two personas: Kate Upton (2 Aug 2012)