If high fashion is art then a discussion of it belongs here in the Culture section. This at least is the official excuse for mentioning Zoolander’s return to the catwalks of Paris in this week’s column. As enjoyable as it must have been to watch Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson spring onto the Valentino catwalk, it has got me thinking about how the fashion world has been represented by film and, more generally, how our distinct cultural categories can collide and overlap to produce either magical or disastrous results.
Here is a list of three such occasions, some predictable, others surprising:
1. Firstly, let’s talk about Tyra Banks’ foray into literature with Modelland. Tyra’s an adaptable girl, appearing in Coyote Ugly and presenting America’s Next Top Model, but judging by the synopsis of her 2011 novel: “before she can blink her mismatched eyes…”, it does not suggest great literature is held within the pages; writing is perhaps something she should not have set her sights on. At the risk of overstressing the point, perhaps someone should let Naomi Campbell know that the same advice stands in regards to her 1996 novel, Swan, as well.
2. Vermeer’s beautiful ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ was used as the inspiration for Tracy Chevalier’s successful novel, later spawning the 2003 film. The formula was used again to great success in 2014, with Amy Adams nominated for a BAFTA for her performance in Big Eyes and The Goldfinch winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Incidentally, ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ and ‘The Goldfinch’ hang in the same gallery, the Mauritshuis in The Hague, so if you find yourself wanting to emulate their success, this might be a good starting place!
3. In almost the opposite direction is the slightly alarming trend of film stars trying their hand at a spot of painting. In 2014 Kristen Stewart announced that she was taking time out to become an artist and “make stuff”. Whilst we haven’t yet seen the results of this burst of creativity, there is no doubt our readership will await with bated breath until that happy time comes. A quick Google reveals a second example, that of none other than an ex-007, Pierce Brosnan. Brosnan is actually already a well-established actor-turned-artist who, having trained as a commercial artist, sells his work to raise money for charity!