I thought that more ‘people watching’ would be fun but this time the people are the models in the French style catalogue. I have many questions and hopefully a few answers. On y va!
Page 66. Why is the model in the lovely moss green cardigan biting her lip? Does it hurt her? Is it a habit? Did the photographer force her to do it? Looking deeper into the picture she does look a bit scary and who is she looking at with her sideways glance? Will she appear on another page in a better mood? Is she permanently scarred from the biting? What is her name? Isabelle, Claudette? Do we care?
Do the models have to be French to be in La Redoute and do they have to look like a famous actress or singer. Picture the three scenes:
’Ah you look a bit like Marion Cotillard, can you model? You are Marion Cotillard! Pardonez moi!’
‘Mademoiselle could you widen the gap in your front teeth? We are searching for that Jane Birkin older hippy chick look. Wider, wider! Parfait.’
‘You can pout and giggle at the same time? Excellent you’re in.’
I’m further into the catalogue now (takes sip from coffee). Hey, it seems that I can recommend a friend and I will receive a HUGE £25 discount or my choice of three free gifts. I think I will go for the free gifts. For starters the demure model on page 155 wouldn’t look amiss on my arm. And I can choose two other things? A set of cutlery and a Versailles style toilet roll holder. Wow! Life doesn’t get any better than this! Back soon, don’t go away.
Did you miss me? I’ve been away for ten minutes lingering over the lingerie and swimming through the swimwear sections. Pages 369 to 467 if you are interested. Now, according to this bit, if I were a woman needing some swimwear I would be either pear shaped, hourglass shaped, apple shaped or cone shaped. Miss Pear shaped says that she has a small bust, a petite waist and rounded hips. Sounds fine to me.
Now what if I had to describe myself in such ways. I’ll go along with the fruit themes and call myself banana shaped. I like bananas. They’re very good for you and a cheery colour. Hi there La Redoute! I’m Mr Banana. I have no man boobs, a gently expanding waist and snake like hips. Lol
Now we get to the kids and teens part of the catalogue – les enfants et les teens – no less.
Forgive me being critical but the boy in green on page 491 looks a right little snob. Mon Dieu! He is wearing a tie dye print scarf. He has to be from the continent. He’d be lynched in a UK school with that on. His modelling mate, the boy with the mass of brown curly hair looks an unspoilt sweetie. But why are they both frowning? Are they training to be unsmiling male models? Is there school bus late? Is that the reason? Is their coffee cold? Mine is.
We move on to the men’s style sections. Homme- enjoy your style! It says, and I will thanks. Flicking through the pages now. These blokes look so darned serious and that one needs a shave. And you there – Mr linen looks for city chic- you are far too good looking for your own safety. Grow a beer belly for goodness sake!
The linen shirts with macho yet sensitive mandarin collars look nice. I’ll have a couple of them. What we got next? Jeans, jeans, jeans, tee shirts and shoes that look like they can fly. Now we’ve got a bloke with the man’s version of the scarf featured earlier on the boy. This man is huge and looks like he works out constantly without even sweating. He’s staring at me now, intently. It’s ok mate you look great in that scarf. He’s getting up off the page and heading straight for me. I’m off!
Phew! I’m three pages ahead now so I think I lost him in the article descriptions panels. Thinking about it, he was another one not smiling, just Mr Moody from Broodyland. Is this stern/sulky look appealing ladies and gents? They all look like they’ve asked to wash up or do the ironing.
I’m going to pause a bit and take some pictures of myself to show these fellas how it is done. Look at me. I’m smiling despite the bags under my eyes. See also the perfect older male model picture – laughing, pointing at something in the distance ( a pint of warm beer?) and I’m also looking casual - yet practical - with a tool. Perfect.
I’m back and I have some great news! I’ve actually found a smiler! There’s young black guy showing off his pearly whites and tilting his head coyly to the ground in the sports section. Maybe, just maybe, there needs to be a good reason for the male models to smile. Give him a hammer or drill – he’s happy and smiling. Give him something sporty to think about – football, rugby, ladies synchronised swimming dvds - again smiling. See it’s easy. Smile and the world smiles with you. Look at that picture below. Serious with a hammer - the smile wins every time. N'est pas?
Back to the catalogue.
Here’s another one – a balding bloke like me. Again grinning at the floor. What is it about the floor? Is there lager down there or a small feisty dog to be walked?
Personally, I’m very worried now. This balding man is what my mum would call very beefy – all muscle and no spots or body hair - just all over tone. He is dressed only in a brand new, clean pair of tight fitting boxer shorts and my gaze keeps drifting down to the bulgy bits. I want to look elsewhere but I can’t. Mentally I am urging myself to turn the page and escape the taunting man bulge. It doesn’t interest me. I already have one of my own thank you Mr Beefy. Turn the page! Turn the page damn you!
Turning over the next three pages my vision is assailed by lots of pictures of men in tight boxer shorts. Stop looking at the bulges Phillip! Stop it! Bring back the lingerie ladies! Interiors, this’ll do. Nice bright interiors pictures with cute puppies on French style linen and colourful towelling. Relax, it’s all okay now. There’s no bad bulges here. Mr Beefy has gone with his ‘great looks for less’ and cheap knickers.
As we leave the glossy world of the La Redoute catalogue do spare a thought for those poor models gracing the interiors pages – the kids – the pretend mums and dads – the well-behaved small dogs – the bewildered and hot goldfish in bowls.
How tedious must it be to be told to stand there frozen for hours while they get the lighting just right. Imagine being that model holding back the show curtain or pulling something pink from a set of drawers. For hours.
And lastly how do the models cope with manoeuvring themselves around the lettering and numbers suspended in mid air? How must it feel to have ruined the shot when your clumsy elbow sent Mini price £6.99 for three sets crashing to the studio floor? Who will pick them up afterwards and rearrange? Sometimes there are questions that cannot be answered and I think I need more coffee now. Au Revoir.