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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

    Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

    Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

    £30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

    UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

    £45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

    Day In a Page

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape