Real Heroin Chic: Downtown Divas
Portrait series of Russian sex workers modeling high fashion is the most off-putting and disturbingly stylish series I have come across. The photo series Downtown Divas, artists Loral Amir and Gigi Ben Artzi invited a group of Russian prostitutes to participate in a high fashion photo shoot. Watching the short film they say nothing about their work or what their lives are now but simple pleasures and dreams that maybe too far away to capture. Seeing these women you can notice a glimpses of their younger selves. Former selves talking about their dreams, their hobbies, and good memories.
Watching real and former Heroin addicts during the photo shoot, an undercurrent of guilt and awe are churning in my guts. Miu Miu, Alexander Wang, Balmain and Louis Vuitton draped on their thin frames and sunken glossy eyes staring at the camera. They look beautiful. The poses they're striking along with the styling could be seen in any issue of Vogue or Elle. The comparison between that and the 90's Heroin Chic movement is almost identical and makes me sick at the thought of how mainstream media romanticized this. It's weird when you realize how much fashion glosses over touchy subjects like heroin, prostitution, and even rape. Beautiful clothes and beautiful faces can desensitize these controversial subjects. It's mind boggling and at times alarming. This is the impact and power of beauty and fashion.