Back when I was studying graphic design all those many years ago, my illustration teacher told us that if you are going to use reference material then you need to choose the RIGHT reference material and she was dead right. So many people in the performance or artistic world are being “inspired” by the wrong material. Just because someone else has done it doesn’t mean it’s good. Sure you may be able to use it to build something magical but maybe not. Conversely choosing great reference material doesn’t always guarantee success. How many times have we seen up and coming celebrities being made up like Marylin or Audrey Hepburn for a photo shoot and looking like a cheap Halloween knock off.
Thankfully Bell Soto have done a stellar job with this video. I’m not sure if it was actually for a fashion label or as a bit of an editorial promotion like a video version of a magazine spread. The two male models look incredible in this not just relying on the pouty androgyny that is so common these days. They look like old school performers getting ready for the theatre backstage. When I saw this I immediately thought of the image above of Vladimir by the legendary photographer Herb Ritts who died 11 years ago. I would even guess that Ritts was inspired by performers like Nureyev.
Wherever the inspiration has come from using classic theatrical makeup references and using male models who are masculine but comfortable in that slightly feminine realm has really worked to create a beautiful video.