I never thought I would ever be uninspired by an issue of FRONT that features Arabella, but issue 170 has achieved this to some degree. Don’t get me wrong, there are some extremely high highlights in the issue, but after my first read through this month’s offering I was left a little flat. I felt like there were a lot of rehashed ideas within the magazine as a whole, and only a few aspects of the content really jumped off the page at me.
Let’s start with Arabella’s cover shot. Now I’m a massive Arabella fan first and foremost, she’s done some incredible work with FRONT in the past, and seeing a heavily inked lady on the cover is always a delight in my opinion. The image that adorns the cover is nothing new unfortunately, Arabella looks stunning of course, and her ink is resplendent. But the weird cap and the fact she’s dripping with gold seems a bit odd. All the loose rings on her right hand just seem lazy, and there’s no embodiment of theme at all. It has the feel of a half-hearted fancy dress costume, with the slightest hint of chav thrown in for good measure. Thankfully the majority of my gaze was drawn to Arabella’s face, and she’s got such a beautiful expressive face that this does draw the audience’s focus. But there’s no getting away from the fact she looks a bit like an extremely sexy version of Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses, only with a crap cap instead of a flat cap.
Inside we quickly come to our first highlight of issue 170, that being on page 2 in an advert for “Drop Dead”. I love this two page spread and the model featured in the ad is quite mesmeric. I’d love to know who she is if readers know, I think the attitude and life behind her eyes is simply wonderful, as well as her overall demeanour. She enters into the “cool as fuck” club, where quite a few models from FRONT ads also reside. It was a nice unexpected bonus.
Next stop is the reader’s shit page, and a shout out to a friend of mine from the FRONT forum. Carrie got her artwork showcased on page 12 of this issue to my sheer delight! She’s an incredible artist and a really interesting and funny lady who I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know thanks to my work with this blog. I love her Alysha Nett picture that’s been published this month, and while FRONT did their usual diss-job, I thought they were less harsh than other times. I was properly made up when Carrie told me her work had made the mag, and I strongly urge people to check out her tumblr (http://carrielisbeth.tumblr.com) and her artwork facebook (http://www.facebook.com/CarrieLisbethArtwork) for more information and a chance to see some outstanding stuff. Definitely another highlight from this issue, and I hope the exposure will translate into more followers and attention for the lovely Carrie and her work.
Yet another mention for an ad lady on the opposite page (page 13) by the way. A very gorgeous woman modelling “Time Will Tell” clothing, just thought I’d say.
On to page 16 now and “Full Frontal” with Danielle. Now I never like it when FRONT hails a “triumphant return” or “back by popular demand” because when they do they seem to almost always refer to the return of a model that made a mediocre appearance in a past issue. Danielle isn’t really an exception. With a good outing in issue 165, and an albeit short and sweet showing here, there’s not much “triumphant” about it in my book. Here in issue 170 Danielle has a slightly new look, with shorter hair and a different fringe. She’s also rocking some more summery gear, but the pictures don’t drastically change from page to page. On 18 we see the best shot of the lot, with Danielle wearing a polka dotted dress, opened to reveal her ma-hoosive breasts, she’s also sporting the ever sexy knee socks. I love her hair being over one eye and also how the visible eye is toying with the camera. It’s a very alluring shot, and she works the pose expertly. On 19 I also like the flared skirt she’s wearing, and her stance is coquettish perfection. But the hair over the eye is utilised all too often, and is present in every shot. She’s a stunning lady no doubt, but variety is the spice of life, as well as the spice of photo shoots. I’d have liked to see something a little different.
Next stop Alt Girl Bella on page 58. While reminiscent of Keshia’s Alt Girl set in issue 168 (due mostly to similar leggings) this month’s AG offering is sublime. Shot by the magnificent Gemma Edwards, who is a FRONT fan as well as a terrific photographer (and it shows). Gemma understands what an Alt Girl shoot is all about, and her work in this issue really stands out. It is indeed another one of those highlights I mentioned before, not only due to an energetic and sexy model, but also a dynamic and fresh photographer (who also happens to be very sexy by the way). The first thing I noticed about Bella’s look was the similarities between her choice of eye make-up, and the inclusion of a picture of David Bowie. Maybe a weird thing to notice amidst all the sexyness, but it’s the truth. Away from that, she’s of course a very attractive lady, and her photos and posing match the energy and effervescence of her neon clothing. I love the shot at the top of page 59. Bella pulling up her t-shirt to reveal nipple and midriff piercings. The look on her face is a real joy, playful yet stunningly devilish. I love her body positioning and everything seems so natural about the picture. It’s always a good sign when you’re left wanting more from an Alt Girl shoot and I felt that way after Bella’s set. It felt way too short and I really wanted to see more from her. Perhaps we will in future issues. The shot at the bottom of page 60 is a treat also, I love the lowering of the leggings, and the position of the camera, and the angle from which the shot is taken is inspired. It also goes to show you don’t have to be looking into the camera to have an engaging shot. Lastly on 61 we get a full page shot of Bella to end the set. Again it’s a very natural looking shot, and the shape of her mouth and the subtly of her closed eyes works wonders. Once more the pulling down of the leggings is a well used tool, and Bella has such a gobsmacking figure.
The DIY section had a lot to follow after last months section blew me away, but there are a few ladies that I would love to see in the mag proper. Bonnie Flockers and Lindi ‘Hop’ Koprivnikar have tiny but impressive photos, and Bonnie in particular I think could make the transition to Alt Girl.
Arabella’s “my so-called life” is a very interesting piece this week, and the picture that accompanies it on page 73 is immense. I love her hair and the whole idea behind what is just a simple image. I actually liked learning a little bit about the lady behind the pictures here, and she sure does have a pretty amazing life. However, when she took this job I think she had to wave goodbye to regular main feature shoots. Otherwise the mag will become the Arabella show. Not that there’s anything wrong with that in the short term, but too much of a good thing and all that… It’s also pretty telling when I’m more invested in a two page column, as apposed to her 14 page spread.
So let’s get onto that spread shall we. I don’t really know what’s wrong with me this month, but for the life of me I couldn’t get on board with this Arabella shoot, and I never thought that would ever be the case. For me though, a plus from this set is the work and ideas of photographer Jay Mawson. Throughout the spread there are some interesting shots achieved, and a few new ways of shooting and exhibiting the wonderful Arabella. The first few hat shots I didn’t get much from. I liked the personality shown in the first four on pages 88 and 89, and Arabella does look awesome in a pink number on page 90, but the silly headwear plonked atop of these images just spoil them slightly for me. On page 91 we’ve got an inadvertent “bird flip” with Arabella’s middle fingers pressed against her lips. An idea that has been done before and done better in my view, El Wood’s use of a similar technique in her pale blue Bizarre shoot springs to mind. Pages 92 and 93 are my favourites from the spread by far. An inventive technique that blurs and marries a few different shots of Arabella, producing a very intriguing image covering the two pages. Kind of like a collage of Arabella, the resulting effect being quite dreamlike.
On page 95 is another exquisite shot spoiled for me by very suspect headwear. I don’t see the need for the white cap in the image, and the sheer size of the thing takes over the entire frame in my opinion. Finally I have to mention the shot on page 98, it’s a wonderful image to end the review on. I love Arabella’s stance in this picture, and we get a brilliant opportunity to see the wonderful ink on her right arm. Golden rings and silly hats took away a lot of the enjoyment for me throughout the feature in issue 170. On page 98 we are offered a picture of Arabella free from adornments, and showcasing her beauty, elegance and legendary body art.
Bit of a negative Nelly in this months review sorry folks. I’m not particularly sure why. It was an ok issue in many ways; it had some pluses and not all that many minuses really. I think the majority of my negativity came from disappointment and a feeling of missed opportunity. When you get Arabella in your magazine, surely you have to push the boat out and come from left field a bit in terms of imagery. She’s a well known model and has been in many many magazines, with that comes too much familiarity and that’s not good. I remember last year people were moaning about Mel Clarke being in the magazine too often, with everyone thinking they had seen it all before. With these established models FRONT needs to come up with shoots that stretch their talents and invigorate an audience. Also, the “endless summer” theme has been done to death. It seems as though ever issue of FRONT latterly revolves around the weather and the season. I know it’s summer, I have windows in my house. FRONT covers festivals and sports etc in their mag all the time, why not come up with a festival based shoot, or an Olympic shoot perhaps? I for one would have loved to see Arabella in a sexy alt-tennis themed shoot (for the start of Wimbledon). I think seeing her in that fish out of water situation would have been a hoot, and I’m sure she would have come up with some killer ideas on set.
In response to issue 170 I have to say “more invention FRONT”. Let’s change it up a little in terms of shoot ideas for models. I have nothing against the regular FRONT females like Rosie, Mel and now Arabella, but they need to be used differently, and put in situations that challenge and inspire them when shooting. It’s just my opinion of course, what’s yours?
Above image was taken from the FRONT tumblr.