“Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr goes nude in sensational new photo shoot.”
It’s certainly not the first time we’ve heard that, nor will it, I would suggest, be the last.
But on this occasion it’s not for GQ, it’s for the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Australia, a woman’s fashion publication.
This, in the same month that the Pirelli tyre calendar, that baffling bastion of nude pin-up shots aimed at men, has instead featured an essay of serious and accomplished women shot by Annie Leibovitz – the majority of them clothed.
Even Playboy has stated that in 2016 it will no longer feature nude women in its print edition, meaning that “I only read it for the articles” better be true or that’s a certain end for that dinosaur.
So why would a high fashion magazine choose to feature a model wearing nothing but her high heels and a come hither expression? Why is the exorable Victoria’s Secret parade being touted by magazines such as Vogue as a “the greatest fashion show on earth” when it is merely a gimmicky, hour-long presentation of low-priced undies?
Clickbait. Talkability, media coverage and social media reach are far more important than relevance in a world of challenged media.
In the case of Pirelli, politically correct or not, I am still not seeing a logical connection that will convince me that I should be applauding this tenuous link between women and tyres. In terms of nudes and high fashion, the case is a little more complex.
Sexuality, provocation and nudity have traditionally been important and intrinsic components of art and photography, if you take even the example of just one great photographer such as the late Helmut Newton.
Partly-clad often makes for an impactful and memorable image; a naked breast, the hollow of collarbone, the curve of a buttock can create magic in a photograph.
But full head-to-toe nude shots, pin-up style (no matter how spectacular, in the case of Miranda) are of little use to the female consumer if she is looking at a magazine seeking inspiration on what to wear to her sister-in-law’s wedding.
Speaking personally, I look at models’ bodies with admiration and awe, and have no issue with nudity, but essentially I look at fashion publications to discover where to get the best coats, handbags, sweaters and jewellery.
In my time as editor of Vogue, sales figures showed that readers preferred to see clothes on the cover as opposed to nudes, and didn’t respond very favourably even towards a swimsuit, which I presumed had roots in personal body image.
But audiences are becoming increasingly used to models and celebrities baring all, and in many cases interpret a nude portrait as sexy and empowering (just ask Instagram).
Miranda appears to prefer getting her clothes off rather than putting them on, and there probably isn’t a red-blooded fashion photographer who will try and dissuade her.
Take the Met Ball for example, an annual fashion fundraising event in New York hosted by American Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. The most chic, fashionable and well-heeled people on the planet are invited but the dresses that crash the internet are barely-there, strategically sequinned body stockings worn by the likes of Beyonce, Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez – more burlesque than couture.
We’ve been through a naked and pregnant Demi Moore on Vanity Fair, numerous pregnant supermodel covers on I forget what now, a recent breastfeeding Nicole Trunfio on Elle Australia, and now a naked Miranda Kerr on Harper’s.
(I, over here in my Nana corner, was more of a fan of the Hermes shirt and men’s-style pants that Stella Tennant wore on the July cover of British Vogue).
They are all keeping the conversation going, both for and against, and that, in today’s stretched-to-the-limit marketplace, is what it’s all about.