Protect Vienna

Cover page (Protect Venezia)

Oliver Hadlee Pearch

Vogue Italia, febbraio, 2020

A tall female model, Vittoria Ceretti, wears a low-necked crimson-colored evening dress, standing in a quite eccentric pose in the middle of the cover page. Since the photographer took the picture from a deep perspective, the position of the model’s head is high up in the fainting blue sky, at the upper end of the page. The line of the well-known houses behind her, with the entry of the Royal Gardens at the right side, is shimmering in the pale golden light of the evening sun. They appear like a wall against the gently rippling waves of the Venetian Lagoon, somehow scaring due to the rather dark blue color of the water, filling a third of the page. At the bottom end, there is the outline of a sleek black gondola, with one of the two golden seahorses, the only ornament of these boats.

The model seems to stand in the boat, holding an oversized brick in hip-height, inclined to her left, in front of the water, effortless like a goddess, resembling perhaps to the ancient Greek Athena as the patron and protectress of Athens and various cities. The tablet is lighted by the evening sun and shows a clear message: PROTECT VENICE. DONATE TO: COMUNE DI VENEZIA. EMERGENZA AQUA ALTA. CONTRIBUTO: EMERGENZA ACQUA.
This blunt call for money is underlined by the eccentric posturing with the hip shifted to her right, so that her left shoulder is inclined and her right goes up. Her shoulders are strikingly broadened by the wide frilly volant of her evening dress, made of micro faille by Valentino. While the right arm is outstretched, she bends the left one into her waist, the hands resting softly on both sides of the brick. Face, neck and bust coherent lighted with some shaded parts, are in the same color scheme of brick, evening sunlight, houses, all contrasted by sky and water and the black gondola. Her straight long brown hair with a center part touches slightly her right shoulder, making a small curve that produces an elegant line of shadow on her neck. While the posture of the upper chest is right-angled to the brick, she inclines the head slightly to her right. Her oval rounded forehead gets a fine contour by the lines of her eyebrows. She looks with her brown eyes under half closed eyelids straight down, somewhat scrutinizing the viewer, but at the same time holding her nose turned up. The jewelry consists of a thin chain in rose gold with a “Fantina pendant”, that has a smaller drop inside the larger one. By Pomellato as well comes the “Fantina ring”, worn on her right pointer finger.

Vogue Italia’s choice of this image, convincingly composed and photographed by Hadlee Pearch, proves once more the quality of this leading fashion magazine. Since the cover page is the most precious space of a magazine, editing pictures for delivering a specific message is so important. That issue of February focused on funding the city of Venice, that was in state of emergency, caused by the exceptional high tide in November 2019.
Today, at the global state of emergency because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I had the idea to create a similar message for Vienna. But instead of an overflow, Vienna has now the problem of lacking in life. Our city’s state of emergency is such a scaring void, because of the disruption of daily life by lockdown and social distancing. To visualize this problem, I thought it useful to personalize that cover of Vogue. Despite the difficulties of this imitation, I tried to get at least an allusion to the original. It was most challenging to pose myself in that eccentric way only female models can do. Well, wearing a mask helped a bit. But more important was the task to adjust the request for help to the current context: PROTECT VIENNA. DONATE TO: CITTÀ DI VIENNA. EMERGENZA VUOTA PER CORONA. CONTRIBUTO: EMERGENZA SVUOTAMENTO.
However, I wanted to keep the Italian version because of a vague possibility, that Vogue Italia might have created a cover page for helping the neighboring Vienna, which has always adored Italian art and fashion.