Model: Binkey Lewis
Creative Director: Morant Sean
Photographer: Derek Fauntleroy Images
“Looking Vegas In The Face”
“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” The infamous Nevada backbone boasts of a reputation for erasing “shameful” behavior into anonymity. There, it’s far from outlandish to awaken topsy-turvy, nude, accompanied by cocaine, wild animals, and a new spouse—oh, and with no recollection of how any of it got there. But, it barely matters whether or not a stay in Las Vegas lingers amongst your memories. Society demands your experience never leaves the city limits.
Why? What is revealed about American culture when fun, energy, and jubilee are mandated to be discussed in hushed tones? And most importantly, what is the feared undoing that would come as a result of challenging this archaic notion?
This series of shots, affectionately referred to as Looking Vegas In The Face, tells the story of a breathtaking pair: risk and peace. If one were to view risk and peace as siblings, then they are estranged. Separated at birth. Denied the symbiosis they were designed to operate in. Their rare reunion blossoms on the soft, confident face of our beloved model.
This series of shots juxtapose what risk and peace look like together, both when one sleeps, and when she is awake. The creative director was intentional and prudent about which palette accompanied which shots. Those in which the model’s eyes are energetic, wide open and full of definition express the refusal for this young woman, the New Americana if you will to bow her head before the elements of the world that ramp up our quality of life. Her resonant yellow and green candy-coated lips announce with swelling pride that she can handle a shot of top-shelf tequila, and she can also lead a meeting with the CEO. She is the CEO. She owns the CEO.
In the shots with the model’s eyes shut, she is outlined and highlighted in colors reminiscent of water and sky. The artist is to be commended for keeping up themes of openness and fluidity, even with her arms crossed and eyes shut (body language that is traditionally indicative of hiding, guarding). Even with her eyes shut, this young woman is impossible to catch off guard. It is unnecessary for her to sleep with one eye open. A cottony pink dance across the lid of her eye akin to a dust of magic, a kiss from a fairy godmother to ward off any ill wills. Further still, the photographer’s artful capture of the bare chest makes the calm more convincing. Nudity is used in the mainstream media to titillate and stir; in this image, nudity represents the quiet strength in vulnerability. She has nothing to fear as she cascades upon herself. She is a shield, and she is enough.
In all of her shots, the non-traditional polychrome steamrolls societal ideas of what deeply melaninated women are allowed to do with color. In fact, these painted faces are unconcerned with the concept of being “allowed”. The photographer captured, and the model delivered, a woman that asks permission from herself, and grants it judiciously. What’s also of note, is the creative director achieved feminine purity without the normal white and pastel to rest upon. The shut-eye poses utilize pastel sparingly, and the bolder colors are the larger focus. Yet and still, that small addition of pastel on the eyebrows and lids gives a nod to traditional femininity. It acknowledges its worth rather than discarding it. The artist showcases a new way to consume femininity, without insulting all the soft, pretty legs it already stands tall upon.
Shamelessly, we look Vegas in the face. We sing it good morning, we whisper it goodnight. What happens in Vegas, happens wherever we dare to breathe life.