Craig McDean is a force in the fashion world. His commercial work is striking, and moves away from the simple portraits. His first time in Vouge was in 1995, a simple ad for Jil Sander, then, after Kate Moss cover, he was sought after for portraits. Scarlet Johansson's portrait looks like it should be encased in a 19th century locket; She curves her neck and looks with doe eyes from beneath flattened, 20s hair.
His work is glossy and high resolution, flawless skin and lush colors. The thing that separates McDean from the rest of the glossy pack is his penchant for the outlandish and brilliant. He paints Kate Moss in an American flag and covers Uma Thurman’s eye with a massive butterfly. Tilda Swinton, long a favorite model of the more artistic fashion photographers, is one of his finest portraits: swooping red hair glinting in the light in a splash of intense color, dressed as Bowie.
His latest cover of Vogue is Cate Blanchett freshly returned from a 6 year stint in the Australian theater. The first shot is a homage to Romy Schneider in the film Bisconti, lounging on the floor in gold Cartier timepieces. Moving away from loud color, he shoots Blanchett in muted, soft, light.
His recently published book: I Love Fast Cars stands in total opposition to the fine tuned and glossy work he does for Vouge and the like. The pictures are grainy, the subjects unkempt. Two girls grimace as Ford Mustangs burn out on the tarmac. Mullets and plaid and the dress of the day, not a bob with a gingham shirt and a tweed jacket.
by John Hutt