Haven't I seen you before?

If these poses look familiar it's because they hide a million sins. ANNALISA BARBIERI on the tricks of the rag trade

Fashion poses are just like jukeboxes. Both have a predetermined, finite selection and just as certain musical hits get picked again and again, so certain fashion poses come at you more times than you care to count. This summer's top cliche is "girl yanking bikini bottom" - the yank. Without fail over the next couple of months you will see a model with thumb hitched into her bikini pants, pulling them slightly down and to the side, on advertising billboards, in fashion spreads and catalogues throughout the land.

The slouch shot that you see on this page is cousin of the most prevalent Nineties pose of all, one that Martin Raymond, senior lecturer at the London College of Fashion, aptly calls "the retch". This is where the hips are pushed forward in a pelvic tilt, and the shoulders are rounded into the chest. These poses may sound unattractive but if you have ever wanted long, lean limbs - and most of us in this screwy Western nation have - this pose can, in a thrice make yours as long and as lean as they are ever likely to be outside of a hall of mirrors.

The retch and the slouch (the sitting down version of the retch) came about the way all poses do, to accommodate a change of fashion. The fashion at the beginning of the Nineties - grunge - required something different to the wind machine glamour shots of the late Eighties. "Real" clothes needed "real" poses. Progressive photographers of the day posed their models slouching and others copied. Badly.

"Photographers like Steven Meisel are very clever at picking up on familiar poses but feeding it to us in a modern way," says Sally Courtis, senior fashion editor at Elle. "He's very good at taking the Nova/Fiorucci thing of the Seventies but making it look modern. It's the pale imitators that fall flat on their faces. The maestros know what they're doing, other photographers don't."

All naff poses - all those on this page - were born great. But, like Fergie, they just did not know when to leave the party. "Fashion poses start off as a statement by great photographers," says Raymond, "then everybody copies them so they become a parody. Eventually they end up in high street catalogues [regarded as the retirement home of fashion poses] and become a farce."

There is another reason certain poses persist - they make the clothes look good. This is one of the greatest reasons people get home and are disappointed with the clothes they've just bought after seeing them in a magazine. It wasn't just because they were modelled by a beautiful girl shot by a top photographer; any outfit can look good in one brief, artificial moment. As a teenager with nothing better to do, I'd pose in front of the mirror, contorting my body into shapes that were impossible to uphold in daily life but made me look fantastic. My favourite was a side-on pose that concaved my chest and made me look like a gazelle. It could make even shapeless jumpers look good, especially if also performed in conjunction with the yank. Of course I recognise it now as a very early retch pose - pretty radical since this was the early Eighties and the pose of the day was a model hailing a taxi with a rolled-up magazine.

There is a new pose on the scene that is scarier than any that has gone before and it's already being copied. Watch for it because it is so bad it is almost good. I wish I could say it exists to make clothes, or the model, look good. But it doesn't. It is just a hugely lazy device that marks out its creators as having just about enough talent to go into day time television presenting. It is this: in each shot the model changes outfit but remains in exactly the same, very wooden pose - often with a pointlessly surreal prop too (fish, log, scythe) - throughout. It is the last word in fashion poses and it's coming to a magazine or newspaper near you.

The Jut

This sticking-your-neck-out pose was popular four years ago when it was mostly used in conjunction with shiny make up. Always shot front on so you can't see that the model is pushing her chin forward. Excellent for giving a skinny neck and tight lower jaw, which is why it's popular for jowly pop stars. Try it on your next passport photo.

The Lick

Used in its most overt form in mens' magazines (girl with lolly, that type of thing), or diluted in lifestyle shots for women (woman eating cake with cup of tea). It has little function as a clothes-showing device other than to focus in on a pretty top - its main aim is to make you think "sensuous" or "cor, wouldn't mind giving her one".

The Belly

By looking at her belly, the model makes interesting angles with her arms, which makes an otherwise insignificant vest and drawstring trousers shot less boring. This has been the decade of the belly, and this shot is the only way of showing it without putting the model in a hideous cropped top.

The Yank

The most famous "yanking" shot was Bailey's Sixties' photograph of Jean Shrimpton pulling at the neckline of her jumper. It has an obvious sexual subtext when shot with swimwear. Beware, however, when you see other types of clothes being yanked - it is a classic trick to hide the shaplessness of an otherwise photogenic garment.

The Slouch

The pose of the Nineties - for an entire generation of photographers it is the only way to shoot clothes. An "anti-fashion" type pose, (and a world removed from the poker up the botty shots of the Fifties), and supposed to look realistic, although actually highly contrived. Concaves the body, making the stomach and breasts appear flat.

The Page 3

Supposed to be sexy without showing anything - topless without the tits. By holding the hands in this position the shoulders appear skinny and almost childlike, which is a look some photographers like. There is another, more pragmatic reason for using this: if a stylist wants to use a pair of trousers or skirt and there is no suitable top.

The Lurch

Appears with boring regularity in "intellectual" fashion magazines. It uses the body as little more than a prop to show the clothes, thus dehumanising the model. The angular stance is also one of the easiest ways to show the highly sculptured wares of "conceptual" designers such as Shelley Fox and Junya Watanabe.

The Crouch

Otherwise known as the Foetus, and a good way to shoot a whole outfit without having the model standing up (which means shooting from further away, thus losing detail). This is why it's popular for catalogue shots. The forerunner to this pose was the one with the model sitting on the floor with legs bent to one side.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY MYKEL NICOLAOU/STYLED BY ZOE BROWN/HAIR AND MAKE UP BY SHARON WILLMORE USING CLINIQUE/MODELLED BY CHANTAL AT STORM

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

    £17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

    The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

    The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

    £30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'