n Image & Text : a Journal for Design - Subverting the gaze : the voyeuristic, fetishised spectacle of Karl Lagerfeld's (2011)

Volume 21, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1020-1491



The highly prized and rarefied 2011 was released in Moscow in December 2010. Simply titled , it was conceptualised, developed and photographed by internationally renowned fashion designer and Karl Lagerfeld. It comprises 36 black and white photographs of models and one actress (Julianne Moore) representing mythical characters (including gods, demigods, heroes and muses) from the ancient Graeco-Roman world. Among these, figures such as Apollo, Achilles, Echo and even Zeus are to be found. In this article I elucidate how Karl Lagerfeld has sexually objectified these numinous deities, epic heroes and heroines and thrust them into the domain of highbrow erotica. Furthermore, I aim to analyse the re-representation and re-articulation of these characters both in terms of gender and sex. Described by Lagerfeld as his 'visual version of Homer' (Malpas 2010), I will critique his photographs through the use of Laura Mulvey's (1975/2000) seminal concept of the 'male gaze'. The argument will also claim that through his camera lens, Lagerfeld has interrogated the of masculinity and femininity. In doing so, he has challenged heteronormative ideologies and instead presented a of many gazes: heterosexual; bisexual; homosexual; masculine; and feminine: intimating that sex is always a contested norm and a continuous negotiation.

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