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Deconstructing the image

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Binary oppositions can be used to identify the narrative of a media text so we can understand what the image is presenting to us in terms of structure. This is important in relation to Georgina, Brixton as it seems to connote a number of meanings and ideas to do with fashion.

Culture : Nature
Synthetic : Real
Model : normal person
full : emptiness
healthy : unhealthy
fashion : unfashionable?

This image could be viewed as a fashion image due to the designer underwear and idea of ‘heroin chic’ fashion photography or conversely a snap shot due to the anti-glamour and, for its time, unconventional fashion environment to shoot fashion images.

The last Binary opposition has a question mark at the end. You would assume this is exactly the confusion in the interpretation of these images that Corinne Day was trying to unearth. ‘I think fashion photography has gone full circle. Grunge has become glamorous’

Past structures involving the myth of glamorous fashion photography used perfect models in perfect environments to try and glorify the image to such an extent that it tempts the consumer to step into the higher society and purchase the product with the hope of consuming a part of the glamour and lifestyle portrayed by the image. The intertextuality from this form of fashion structure has been inverted severely altering the image and explicitly intextualising with work from inspirations such as Nan Goldins work, Corinne was involved in the transformation of fashion photography away from the photographer focusing more on the model.

The Paratextuality of the image or more the Diary from which this image was obtained can be compared with that of Nan Goldins ‘The Ballad Of Sexual Dependency’. The Documentational structure is similar. Architextually the genre could be identified as documentary fashion photography or ‘heroin chic’. The Hypotextuality of this image is evident in todays fashion photography as critically acclaimed photographers often produce images resembling elements of Georgina, Brixton and the Heroin Chic look.

Textual Analysis


Chandler, D (2002), Semiotics: The Basics, Routledge, pp194-205 and at: http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/S4B/sem09.html


Bignell, J. (2002), Media Semiotics (2nd ed.), Manchester University Press , p44


Branston, G. & Stafford, R. (2006), The Media Student’s Book (4th ed.), Routledge, chapter 3


Gillespie, M. & Toynbee, J. (2006), Analysing Media Texts, Open University Press , pp55-64


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November 26, 2010 at 5:37 pm

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Kate Moss was born in 1974 in Addiscombe, Croydon, England. In 1990  Corinne found 15 year old Kate at the Storm agency in London where Corinne was commisioned by the FACE magazine to shoot eight pages of fashion named ‘the third summer of love’.

‘She was a beauty, but there was also something quite ordinary about her: her hair was a bit scraggy, and with no make-up she just looked like the girl next door. I encouraged her to be natural. I’d chat to her and then take the pictures in the middle of the conversation. I was trying to get the person to just bring themselves to the camera.’

The pictures made Kate Moss the face of The Face, and Day’s best images of her summed up the mood of British youth after the rave explosion. But Moss and her agency weren’t always happy with the pictures. Moss got teased at school for exposing her flat chest in one classic 1990 shoot, and the agency worried that the photographer deliberately left in imperfections like bags under the eyes that others would have retouched. But for Day, this was the point. ‘It was something I just felt so deep inside, being a model and hating the way I was made up. The photographer always made me into someone I wasn’t. I wanted to go in the opposite direction.’

‘Kate had had a fight with her Boyfriend that day and had been crying, so some of the photos were naturally sad. The photographs looked cheap and tacky, everything that Vogue wasn’t.’

Day shot Moss for the May 1993 issue of Vogue.

‘I think the press took the photos far too seriously and read a lot more into them that was really there. Vogue never worked with me again.’

Kate Moss went on to grace 30 front covers for Vogue and is one of the founders of the ‘Heroin Chic’ look.

Corinne Day now understood what she wanted out of photographs, to go against the conventional fashion images and focus more on the personal expression of the model creating a sense of identity in each photograph rather than homogenised fashion images.


Corinne Day, Diary, November 2000, Kruse Verlag

http://nymag.com/fashion/models/kmoss/katemoss/#, (accessed 28/11/2010)

Corinne Day, Fashion and documentary photographer,Jennie Ambrose, http://www.redcmarketing.net/we-like/corinne-day-fashion-documentary-photographer/September 27th, 2010

http://racked.com/archives/2010/08/28/breaking-unconfirmed-corinne-day-british-fashion-photographer.php, Saturday, August 28, 2010, by Danica Lo

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November 26, 2010 at 5:32 pm

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<img class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-67″ title=”corrine” src=”https://chrisbennettgrantcmp.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/corrine.png?w=232″ alt=”” width=”23


Corinne Day was born in 1965 although public records suggest 1962. She was 30 years old when she took the photograph Georgina, Brixton

Summary of an extract from ‘Diary’

-Corinne Day left school when she was 16 to become a courier to satisfy her hunger to travel.
-A photographer on a plane suggested she should be a model, so she became a fashion model.
-She met film director husband Mark Szaszy in Tokyo. He taught her how to use a camera.
‘these photographs had an intimacy and a sadness about them. There we were struggling to pay rent, living in a dump, surrounded by glamorous magazines that were so far away from our own level of living.’
-She was recommended to show Phil Bicker from FACE magazine her photographs
-Subsequently asked to take some fashion images for a spread in FACE
-Met 15 year old Kate Moss from Storm Model agency, who she shared an interest with music in Nirvana.
-Shot Kate in a number of natural locations and liked how skinny Kate was.
-Day didn’t like the amount of make up and fake environments and poses used in the eighties by models. She is famous for saying that past fashion images were more about the photographer than the person being photographed. She wanted to instill some reality.
-Corinne took her work extremely seriously.
-Photographed Kate for vogue wearing underwear in her flat. It was a casual image because she had been crying as she recently had split from her boyfriend. The media took the photographs too seriously and read much too far into what was actually there. Vogue cut Corinne as a contributor. She met Tara and Georgina Cooper.
-She shot 3 photographs of Georgina to appear in Ray Gun. This got her noticed.
-Corinne then met the band Pusherman and asked to contribute to Penthouse Magazine.
-Comments on how Nan Goldin and Larry Clark’s work is liberating.

Talking in an interview with the Guardian
It was his obsession with money, she says, that made her so indifferent to it. ‘My dad was incredibly driven by money, and I felt like I lost him to it. When I was a kid he had a big house, but I hated going there. It never felt like home. There was no love there.’

Maybe her dads obsession with money affected her outlook on life. She could have created an innate hatred for glamour, falseness and money. Nan Goldin also questioned the environment around her when her older sister died. The environment around her was false, contrary to what society and family told her all her life. Life isn’t perfect. People aren’t perfect. She was close to her sister. Corinne Day could of read glamour in this way, especially during the era in which she grew up. During this period the conservative government had privatised a lot of industries, high unemployment and social unrest. Far from the glamour and beauty masked by fashion.

‘I don’t have great cheekbones, or huge lips to pile lipstick on – it didn’t suit me. I wasn’t really a conventional beauty, I was quite plain-looking for a model. When I first saw Christy Turlington, all my hopes of ever getting on the cover of Vogue were gone. So I just made the best of it, and enjoyed it – I loved the travelling. We went to Australia, Spain, and ended up in Milan. That’s where I started to take pictures. Mark had a camera, and he taught me how to use it.’
Her subjects were other struggling models, photographed in their own clothes in the seedy hostels where they lived. ‘I started to realise that it was ambiguous, the life. Even though you’re surrounded by all this glamour, there was a lot of sadness. We couldn’t buy the clothes that we were photographed in, couldn’t afford to go out and do the things we would have liked to do as teenagers.’


Corinne met Andy Frank, a part of ‘Pusherman’ in 1994. ‘It was a great time of music, festivals, drugs, parties, music. I met Jess through Pusherman because she used to go out with Martin, the rhythm guitarist. Jess works for Vivienne Westwood. I went to the Vivienne Westwood shop opening party with Jess and thats where I met the editor of Penthouse magazine.’ Corinne was commisioned by Penthouse just before shooting Georgina, Brixton. ‘The pictures were published but the editor and Art director were sacked’ Corinne Day – Diary

‘In the beginning I thought I was shooting a rockumentary about the band Pusherman, who in the end split up because of drug problems around 1997 and left me wondering what to do next. I had introduced Corinne to the band in 1994 and she loved to photograph them and their lifestyle, so it was a natural spontaneous decision to shift focus from band to Corinne and connect her work and play with the band into a story about her photography.’ Mark Szarszy talking about Pusherman

Mark Szarszy clearly had an influence in the way Corinne took photographs. He was a documentary maker. Even his music videos for Oasis have a documentary style to them. This tour and introduction to Pusherman added another tainted, darker dimension to Corinne’s work, something we had not seen in the earlier innocent, naural photographs of Kate. Georgina, Brixton involves this new drug, grunge inspired look.


IFQ, Mai Meksawan – IFQ StaffExclusive interview with filmmaker Mark Szaszy and photographer Corinne Day

Corinne Day, Diary, November 2000, Kruse Verlag

‘I’m a photogaphy junkie’ Interview with the Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/theobserver/2000/sep/03/features.review7, 9/2002

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November 26, 2010 at 5:26 pm

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m&id=162&exhibition_id=1, National Portrait Gallery, 15-02-2007, CORINNE DAY

Georgina Ellen Cooper is a British model born in 1976 in Wellington, England. Georgina Cooper has been used by Corinne Day in a number of photographs between the years of 1994 and 1995.

‘I submitted three photographs of Georgina. In one she wore a black, bat-winged dress and in another an eighties ‘slaggy’ sort of dress. There was also a portrait in a Judas Priest t-shirt. When these photographs came out in Ray Gun, Georgina called me and said thanks because people were noticing her now. I was pleased for her because Georgina is a genuine kind of person.’ Corinne Day – Diary

Georgina was not a perfect specimen in the sense of no imperfections which some fashion photographers demand. She had a big gap in her teeth which Corinne warmed to as again it was more natural and distinguished her from other images. Georgina has subsequently achieved success as a model including the face of Spanish vogue.

http://www.fashionmodeldirectory.com/models/georgina_cooper/, (accessed 28/11/2010)

Corinne Day, Diary, November 2000, Kruse Verlag


m&id=162&exhibition_id=1, National Portrait Gallery, 15-02-2007, CORINNE DAY

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November 26, 2010 at 5:23 pm

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Myth of the Day

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A myth of mainstream fashion photographs is that if you wear the clothes that are worn by the beautiful, immaculate model, you will in some way inherit the aesthetic credentials and lifestyle portrayed by the image.


Super models are culturally accepted and manufactured ‘perfect’ women. Abbey Lee is a extremely successful super model

The idea of the ultimate super model was born into the 80’s with the same beautiful girls as the face of all prestigious designers. Similar to Twiggy in the 60s these specific unnatural supermodels were marketed to death and covered every magazine.
The images were heavily touched up making the model appear absolutely immaculate with no blemishes and silky smooth skin.


http://www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/confidential/abbey-lee-kershaw-career-mushrooms/story-e6frf96o-1225780184039 27/9, 2009, Abbey Lee

Cover of Vogue, Modelinia, http://www.modelinia.com/slideshows/covers–cindy-crawford/107#/3, January 1990


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November 26, 2010 at 4:49 pm

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Grunge/Heroin Chic

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n. Slang

  1. Filth; dirt.
  2. A style of rock music that incorporates elements of punk rock and heavy metal, popularized in the early 1990s and often marked by lyrics exhibiting nihilism, dissatisfaction, or apathy.

The grunge culture beginning in the late 80s early 90s coming to prominence with bands such as Sonic Youth, Pearl Jam and Nirvana. The music was a combination of various genres including rock, metal and punk. The image was to appear scruffy , down and out and usually associated with drug use. Grunge culture began as a sub-culture although can be considered a key movement that some would say reflects the decade. Kurt Cobain

Heroin chic

The look that was popular in the 90s and is coming back now. Being waif skinny, pale, tired and sickly looking, using cigarette smoke as perfume, lanky, and wearing clothes that hang off your emaciated body will give you the ‘heroin chic’ look. you are supposed to look like you have been up for the past week partying and you are worn out (but in a cool way). There was a lot of public outcry about this look saying it encouraged children to try drugs and saying drugs were cool. Urban dictionary

‘There were two defining moments along the way, both involving Moss. The first was in 1990, when some of the first published fashion photographs of Moss, taken by Ms. Day, appeared in the British magazine The Face. One showed Moss topless; another suggested she was naked. She wore a mix of designer and secondhand clothes and no makeup over her freckles, and her expression was sincere. The photos seemed to usher in a new age of antifashion style. Artlessness became art. Some called it “grunge.’’
The second moment, in 1993, was a shoot for British Vogue that featured a pale and skinny Moss in mismatched underwear. A public outcry ensued, as some claimed that Moss’s waifish figure seemed to imply she was suffering from an eating disorder or drug addiction.
The grunge aesthetic took hold for several years in designer imagery of the 1990s, most visibly in Calvin Klein’s influential fragrance and jeans campaigns, and also in street fashion, with the throwaway style of flannel shirts and distressed jeans, as popularized by Kurt Cobain and the Seattle music scene.’
Douglas Martin, New York Times / September 6, 2010

The look they pioneered began to take off, christened ‘waif’ at first, then merging seamlessly with the US grunge scene. At the Paris shows, Day would laugh to see the second-hand clothes shey’d shot six months before being imitated on the catwalk.
Guardian interview

Photography: a cultural history, Mary Warner Marien, pg7-107, enter fashion, 2002,laurencekingpublishers, accessed 28/11/2010

Fashion, desire and anxiety: image and morality in the 20th century, Rebecca Arnold, Heroin chic pg48, 2001, accessed 28/11/2010

Heroin chic, urbandictionary, http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=heroin%20chic, 28/11/2010

Grunge, http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Grunge+rock, accessed 28/11/2010

Corinne Day, Douglas Martin, New York Times / September 6, 2010, New york times

Kurt Cobain image, http://www.smh.com.au/news/music/cobain-is-the-new-elvis/2006/10/25/1161699375968.html, October 25, 2006

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November 26, 2010 at 2:34 pm

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‘I wanted the ordinary person to see real life in those pages’

The above extract is from Corinne Day’s book titled ‘Diary’. I will begin this research blog discussing photographers and the era in which aroused and inspired Corinne to photographically document her friends and create her own style in fashion.

Larry Clark and Nan Goldin are two photographers critically acclaimed for documenting their day to day lives. Their natural technical competence as photographers is evident  although crucially the importance lies with the incredible intimacy, trust and intrusiveness they are allowed with their subject. This provides incredible images usually melancholic and unveiling the lives of counter culture youth involving drugs, friends and the truths of distance within intimacy between sexes.

Corinne Day’s earlier work is clearly influenced by this form of documenting one’s life.  As a young model she lived and socialized with other models which for some can result in becoming idle when not in work. Meeting film director Mark Szarszy and finding interest and also learning how to use a camera allowed Corinne to document  her experiences and people who may of interested her. Her interest in the myth of glamor models being perfect, beautiful role models to the mass public, and the resulting contradicting reality that was discovered in her photographs of real unglamorous shots of models drinking, lounging without make up in dirty environments. The models could not afford the glamorous lives the images and clients they worked for portrayed. Corinne seemed to focus on this notion of the reality of youth and the ‘grunge’ lives these models led.

‘The series draws comparison with artists such as Nan Goldin and Larry Clark, who also live what they photograph. Like them, Day is curious about people who pursue experiences beyond the norm. She is extremely, at times even unbearably, close to the friends she photographs and yet she is so trusted that her presence is never regarded as intrusive, even at the most intimate moments.’
‘At times, Diary is bleak and despairing, as it chronicles these young lives with uncompromising honesty. At others, it is joyful in its simple celebration of friendship. Any sense of voyeurism is tempered by the fact that Day clearly shares in the lives of her subjects. Whether visible or not, she is always, herself, emotionally present in her photographs.’

http://www.photonet.org.uk/index.php?pxid=158 photographers gallery

Corinne Day, Diary, November 2000, Kruse Verlag


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October 18, 2010 at 3:31 pm

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