The Mannequin Models

As fashion photographers, we work at the maximum sublimation of beauty, using light, hair and make-up artists, and editors as the very talented musicians in the orchestra of beauty.

Photo ©Icarus Blake

La Rosa Mannequins’s headquarters are in a non-descript industrial building in the town of Palazzolo Milanese, somewhere in the industrial belt that surrounds Milan. Behind the grayness of the surrounding environment, hides a magic world of stunning mannequins created by the owner, Gigi Rigamonti, a former artist that dedicated his life to the creation of the world’s best mannequins.

We arrived early in the morning for a fashion shoot. The idea was to make the model look as much like a mannequin as possible and photograph her amongst very human like mannequins. During breaks, I wandered around the factory and found some hidden corners where mannequins were being repaired, or their make-up updated. Sometimes, they were simply abandoned, at the end of their “life” cycle.

When I received Giovanni Gastel’s pictures for our Eco-Fashion story, I could not help but thinking of the mannequin pictures as a fitting cover to Giovanni’s shots. Giovanni has been at the forefront of fashion photography for three decades. When it comes to still life photography, he has been the fitting heir to Irving Penn. In 2009, I received an invitation to his solo show “Masks and Specters” at the Regional Palace in Milan. I went out of curiosity and the opportunity to celebrate an old friend. I found myself in the center of a haunting mediaeval space surrounded by gigantic images of… dead fashion models. The impact was stunning.

As fashion photographers, we work at the maximum sublimation of beauty, using light, hair and make-up artists, and editors as the very talented musicians in the orchestra of beauty. We are conductors with the camera as a baton, making sure the orchestra plays at its best. Giovanni decided to reverse the process. His dead models could be the protagonists of a Fashion CSI. The metaphors and the readings are endless. Personally, I can feel the rejection of a lifetime spent at glorifying superficial beauty. It gets to you. Also, these young girls lose most of their human content. They are objectified to the extreme, to a point where they are closer to a still life, than a picture of a person.

When we pull the trigger, we look for aesthetic perfection, not for emotional qualities. We communicate a surreal world, inhabited by glamour and superficiality. Even the most gritty fashion image hides the qualities of an obsessive team of professionals. Giovanni has imploded the bomb of fashion aesthetics. And, he has done it with extreme care and focus as if shooting a Vogue spread. The result is eerie and disconcerting. Even in the glamorization of death, these images maintain an awkward commercial quality and we cannot help but feel like we are looking at a Revlon ad for the dead.

Photo ©Icarus Blake

Photo ©Icarus Blake

Photo ©Icarus Blake


Icarus Blake & Max Power: Editors in Chief
Lora Wiley: Managing Editor
Nancy Cooper: Finance Supervisor
Miko Sala: Art Director
Daniel Cardona: Assistant Graphics Designer
Teo J. Babini: Senior Supervising Editor
Tiffany Credle: Associate Copy Editor
Andrew Rodriguez: Editorial Producer
Matt Heidkamp: Editorial Producer
Greta Pininfarina: Editor at Large
ePublished by Kodezero NYC
Tech Supervision:


Contributors to this cover:

Giovanni Gastel/The Dead and the Beautiful

Giovanni Gastel is the nephew of Italian director Luchino Visconti. He has transferred the imagery and the mood of the old Milanese noblesse to its photography. He has worked for 30 years at the forefront of fashion photography collaborating with the most important magazines in the world and shooting many mainstream advertising campaigns. He is a master at mixing ‘old’ analog techniques with modern digital photography. He has published numerous books and his work has been featured in museums and art galleries. For more information you can download the app Giovanni Gastel from the Apple Store.

Lana Vee/Erosion

Pointillist writer systematically smashing New York City streets lights for more darkness to work in. Fighting sleep while hitting the snooze button, maintaining ignorance through metaphoric bliss. Thoroughly enjoying the freedom that comes with selective anonymity in a city of 8.2 million universes trying to beat rush hour.

Gianna Leo Falcon/Erosion

Gianna Leo Falcon is a self taught female photographer based in New york city, she draws her inspirations from those around her and many if not all of the people she shoots are friends, family members, or lovers… She aims to convey people has honestly as she can, and strays from the more commercial work that seems to be popping up every where like wild fire…  A little dark and rough around the edges, Gianna’s work is sure to make you feel something….

Katie Boyd/The Dainty Death

Katie Boyd is a Brooklyn based illustrator who is mostly inspired by her colorful upbringing in Buffalo, NY. Her work varies from to children’s books to costume and fashion illustration. She’s elated to be collaborating with CBK.

Casey Jones/Best of Instagram: jonesybrooklyn

Casey is a California native, currently teaches elementary physical education, and resides in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn with his lovely girlfriend. He can be reached at

A.Schomburg/Bravo, Bravo! A Brooklyn Work of Art

A. Schomburg is a Turkish German artist, born 1975 in Germany, currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NYC Schomburg attended the school of Fine Arts in Germany with experiences in the fields
of performance and visual arts. The work has been shown for example in collaborations with theatre director Michael Laub live at Romaeuropa, Rome, 2004 and the Theatre Festival d’Avignon, 2005. A. Schomburg has participated in numerous underground short films and frequently collaborates with experimental musicians, sound makers and composers.

live appearances:
A Little Bit of History Repeated, Kunst-Werke, Berlin, Germany, 2001
Marking the Territory, The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland, 2001
Body Power / Power Play, Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany, 2003
4th International Performance Festival Odense, Odense, Denmark, 2003
Performance in der Kunsthalle, Fridericianum Kassel Germany. 2003
Performance Loop, P.S.1.Contemporary Art Center, New York, 2004
Raumkonzepte, Marta Herford Museum, Herford Germany. 2004

Filippo ‘Phil Sick’ Anniballi/The Pope who Couldn’t Cope

Italian writer, journalist, and performer, born in 1976. Grew up in New York, and lived between Italy, the U.S., England, and Canada. His stories and essays have appeared in underground magazines such as Thorazine, Catastrophe, and Vice Magazine. He worked for the Big Issue, and published Milingo Contro Tutti (2009), which was GQ Italy’s book of the month in July of the same year. He often appears in projects and short films (turbofilms) by Alterazioni Video impersonating himself and other dubious characters.

Dev Ambardekar/The Bahh Band in Bangalore: Musical Melting Pot

Dev is a photographer based in Bangalore, India and primarily shoots music. He also writes for a few online publications and blogs a lot. He is currently completing his bachelors in Architecture.

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