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CINDY SHERMAN WEARS CHANEL: Cindy Sherman is playing dress-up again, this time with Chanel couture. For the fall issue of Pop, the New York-based artist — whose past forays into fashion include creating 1994 promotional materials for Comme des Garçons and appearing in a 2005 Marc Jacobs campaign shot by (and featuring) Juergen Teller — took on the French house’s archives to create a booklike insert of typical self-portraits. Dressed in 17 looks, ranging from Twenties designs by Coco Chanel herself to Karl Lagerfeld creations from the Eighties and more recent seasons, Sherman eschews elegance and glamour: There are no hunched-over, hands-on-hips couture poses here. Instead, she appears uncomfortable and stiff in the clothes, wearing a variety of wigs and dour expressions, and looking all the more awkward against Photoshopped-in backdrops of views of Iceland. “My whole idea for the group was that they were like icons or statues…from a shrine — maybe the shrine is for housewives or something,” said Sherman, who was approached by Pop editor in chief Dasha Zhukova to do a fashion-inspired series. (Initially, Sherman sent the magazine looks she liked from a number of different designers, but the two settled on an all-Chanel shoot when the company offered to open up its archives.)
While the basic concept for the Pop story evolved from a series of work she recently showed in Kiev, the artist said she had no idea how difficult it would be to work with couture. “The dresses were so unbelievably tight on me — normally I wear a size 4, but these were like size zero,” she said. “I mean, I was aware that they were going to be small when I was choosing the outfits, but what I didn’t realize is that with couture, even if it looks loose, there’s a supertight corseted zip-up slip on the inside.” Hence her static poses. Her facial expressions, which she distorted further in Photoshop, also reflect her fashion frustrations. “Some of the scowls that are on my face were also because I was just so pissed off that these godd---n designers make things so small that even a normal-sized woman can’t fit into them,” she explained.
But that pique doesn’t stop Sherman from donning designer clothes. Though she doesn’t wear much Chanel (“A couple of years ago I bought a great denim outfit with matching high heels, but I don’t even know that I ever wore it, actually…”), she does wear a lot of Prada, Marni, Zero + Maria Cornejo, Narciso Rodriguez and Balenciaga. In fact, Sherman teamed up with Balenciaga for a 2007 French Vogue story and images from the series will be on display at the Chelsea Balenciaga store during Fashion’s Night Out.
As for such commercial work, Sherman said: “It’s usually when I’m in between projects and I just want a perfect excuse to work on something where there’s a deadline and I can experiment. If I get [personal] work out of it, great. If not, it was just fun to do.”
Pop’s fall issue hits U.K. newsstands on Wednesday and makes its debut Stateside on Sept. 8. — Nick Axelrod