AVOID THE FACE: Guy Bourdin & Charles Jourdan

One of the first ads I remember liking:43297-charles-jourdan-shoes-1976-photo-guy-bourdin-hprints-com-1
It just seemed so exotic.

Surely fashion ads featured smiley, but unattainable models demonstrating how to wear that product?
An arse, virtually against the camera lens, puts the product in the shade.
The name of these shoes is printed in tiny, little type.

It’s as if they don’t give a shit.
Which is why it’s so cool.
The cool don’t pander.
If you’re very cool you forge your own path; surprising, shocking and causing controversy along the way.
(It’s true, that’s how we roll.)
But creating that vibe isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Ad agencies rarely do it, they get too bogged down with logic and strategy.
So fashion houses chase photographers to give them attitude.
I didn’t know it at the time, but that arse was shot by the late, great Guy Bourdin.13a13678ec7822c158ef8ba9f9762142
Arguably, Bourdin is the most influential fashion photographer ever. (Or most ripped off, depending on how you view that kind of thing.)
In 1964, Francine Crescent, accessories editor at French Vogue, was asked by Roland Jourdan to suggest a photographer to shoot some ads for his father’s company; Charles Jourdan, she suggested the thirty six year old Bourdin.Chapeau-Choc, 1954Guy Bourdain - 'Cockeral', 1962Guy Bourdin 'Bellhop & Waiters', French Vogue Dec. Jan 1970

Guy Bourdin 'Multi-Glasses'
Guy Bourdin 'Cherry Girl' Vogue Lugli, 1958.pngGuy Bourdin 'X Back'Guy Bourdin 'Champagne & Pig', French Vogue Dec. Jan 1970Guy Bourdin 'Ribbon Hair'
Guy Bourdain - Vogue, UK, April, 1966.jpegCapobianco-shoes-laure-shoes, Guy Bourdain, 1956'Naked Feet' Guy Bourdain
He accepted but insisted on absolute control, Francine reassured Roland, ‘‘Don’t worry, you won’t be married, you could always change photographer.’’
Reassured, Roland went ahead, it turned into a seventeen year ‘marriage’, (from 1964-1981), during that time Roland never turned down a single picture.
It took a lot of courage, the pictures weren’t like those in other fashion ads, rather than classy, sophisticated and aspirational, they could be dark, seedy and dangerous.
The shoes were presentedas fetishistic objects of desire, or as some bod at the time put it; ‘They rejected the the traditional product shot in favour of atmospheric, often surreal tableaux and suggestions of narrative.’
The collaboration started innocently enough with these, very sixties, graphic style ads.'Daisy Shoes' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain, 1967'Four Legs' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain, 1967, Melopee Majestic-MitsoukoAs Roland starts to trust Guy the ads get more ambitious, models start to be represented rather than shown:'Multi-Coloured Leg Tree' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain, 1967

guyjordan06'Cars Legs' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdin, Paris Vogue - March 1967'Spark' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain, 1969, Caleche Olympic'Glove' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain, 1967MX-2600N_20111027_132813_002'Balance' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain, 1967'Lightbulb' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain, 1967SKMBT_C20310072908350.jpgFaces aren’t disposed of altogether, they still pop up occasionally over the years.


'Girls In Shade' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain,0efc4b0fc6b659b80cc6193fb362e048'Maid' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain'Train Wave' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain'Fan' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain'Cllophane' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain, 1973'Hammock' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain, 1973'Darts' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain'Green Satin Sofa' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain6e597bd72a0b030eba4795537b5ee9acguy-bourdin-jourdan-harpers-queen-march-76'Red Shoe' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain, 1973
The shots are very atmospheric, full of attitude, cool, sexy etc, but faces in ads are problematic:
1. They are distracting, the readers eyes go straight to them like a magnet.
2. They can alienate, few people have faces like the models in the ads.
3. Most ads have faces in them, so they don’t stand out.

Who knows whether that was Guy’s thinking, but over time faces definitely become scarcer.
He comes up with tons of inventive ways of showing shoes without pesky models faces trying to steal the limelight.

1. CROP THE MODELS OUT:ab1ed7b63001bd2d4c3d3077c9039b26'Legs At Dusk' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain, 1975'Curve' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain'Red Heel' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain'chair Stack' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain'Bollard', Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Step' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain, Vogue-Oct-1976'Fallen Tree' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain'Doorway' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain'Plane' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain, Spring 1971
'Closet' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain'Flamingos' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain'Legs & Boy' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Fields' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain'Ship Rail' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain'Grass' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain 'Orange Sofa, Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg2014-12-01-Bourdin2.jpg'Red Heel' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Railings' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Obelisk' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Step' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Cinema' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain

2. PUTTING THE MODELS IN THE SHADOWS:'Green Phonebooth' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain
'Street Gallery' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain'Dinner Silhouettes' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain 'Sand Dune' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'In Window' Charles Jourdan, Guy BourdainVogue-March-1978.jpg'Palm' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain'Turquoise Sky' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain

3. MASSIVE CLOSE UPS OF THE SHOE IN ACTION:42b2fc28f77533e131ee3117c41b9bbf'Step' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdin
MX-2610N_20121017_151436_002imager.jpg'Bum' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain, 1976guy-bourdin-charles-jourdan-d9cf3612ff33f3d2de38834baec8710f4b03a4ff92d1e8384788377a7a0867041f9f2501c99c17688bd346f879ef2fae8'Green Suede Boots' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Polaroid Cut Out' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpgff89a2d05dbb4e2a92fc3de5578696e9

002-guy-bourdin-theredlist.png'i Woman' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain-01.jpg'Deck Chairs' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain, 1973.jpg'Pink Satin', Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.png'Man On Stairs', Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.png'Yellow Paint' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Red Swimsuit:Back' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Mouse hole', Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain, Spring, 1979.jpeg'Rainbow Deck Chair' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'By The Sea' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Astroturf' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg

de91a54213f1eb117f66b503527360ab'White Trousers', Charles Jourdan Guy Bourdain.png'No Fishing' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.png'Mouse hole', Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain, Spring, 1979.jpegwpid-guy-bourdin-charles-jourdan-spring-1968-box-11998.jpg'Pink Shiny Wall' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Golf' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain, Vogue Sept 1973.jpg'Bowl' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpgb2a73e5350a2921a9d9e498413e0677fphoto-guy-bourdin-charles-jourdan-spring-1978-b.jpg640a286ade2d9a307e5a6bfba93bb24a

8cb8bc58733443e316036a49d76111f3'Cadillac' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'White Bench' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Umbrellas' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Small Boat*' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.png'Green Door' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Green Booth Glass' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Leg' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain1975.jpg'Yellow Door' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Lamp Post' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain1975.jpg'Hidden Telephone Booth' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Silk Sheet' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Marble', Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Deck Chairs' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain, 1973.jpg'Sheet' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Polythene', Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Truck:Post' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Table Legs' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg'Shop Window', Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.png'Parking:Pillar', Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg

7. EVERYTHING BUT THE SHOES ARE OUT OF FOCUS:bourdin-sd-charles-jourdan-fb

8. CUT FROM THE MODEL BEING TOO SMALL TO SEE TO BEING TOO BIG TO SEE:MX-2600N_20120302_104449_001'Red Tape' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdin

(Well, just using the relevant, dismembered bit of a mannequins leg to stick the shoe on.)84329b0aa69e05927a64549fe4f2e769GuyBourdin-CharlesJourdan-2GuyBourdin-CharlesJourdan-11Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 11.13.26.pngScreen Shot 2017-06-19 at 11.13.40.png18494-ART-24S-GB.jpgGuyBourdin-CharlesJourdan-12guy-bourdin-walking-legs-22j-gb1.jpgffe2d381fa49cf6c3d01296f85a2cd54'Flower Pot*' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg9bee5b9137b007c7dbf66b0e2dfc9e92image25011bfcf7540-7744-4345-b9d3-e38054ecfabe-2060x1369.jpg54c660e939f592778.jpgIMG_1241 'Pond' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg54c660499f0d2french-vogue-charles-jourdan-september-1979-fujiflex-crystal-archive-print-88.9-x-118.1-cm-.jpg'Platform' Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg 

a220452c447b3beb6e76f2be169be451.jpgScan100911973photo-guy-bourdin-charles-jourdan-summer-1974-bMX-2610N_20120925_151516_001'Red Carpet', Charles Jourdan, Guy Bourdain.jpg

Auction-For-Charles-Jourdan-Spring-1975-600x400From todays perspective, we could debate whether some of the pictures are sexist, misogynistic or just plain wrong.
But what isn’t debatable is that they transformed a little French shoe manufacturers into one of the coolest brands of the seventies and changed fashion photography.Guy Bourdain - Self Portrait,1950.jpg
(Geek link: http://www.pinterest.com/davedye/guy-bourdin/)

N.b. I don’t know the chronology of these ads.
I’m certain it’s not how I’ve shown them, but I wanted to segment them in this way to show how one man kept reinventing the idea of the ‘shoe shot’.
So all you chronology freaks, hold off on the comments.


14 responses to AVOID THE FACE: Guy Bourdin & Charles Jourdan

  1. mdesq says:

    I’ve just got back from the D&AD press jury…sadly there’s nothing there that comes close to this stuff.

  2. Ged Stankus says:

    Ah, when ART Directors roamed the earth, life was way more interesting. And Guy Bourdin the photographer was definitely an ART Director.
    Great post. Really enjoyed it. Thanks.

  3. Claudio says:

    Great article and still looks really fresh.


    Thanks for posting this.

  4. Lud says:

    Nice campaign buddy. I know this artwork from David Dean Burkhart youtube channel with song from Washed Out

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