Photography SIMONE PARRI Realization ALESSIO NESI

With the arrival of spring, pills and beauty drinks inaugurate the season of fitness. Supplements in capsules and drainage liquids, designed to carry out an activity against free radicals, work within the body to bring their results on the outside. They contain antioxidants created with bio-extracts taken from food and thanks to cosmeceutical techniques , are “packed” into tablets with the technique of microencapsulation. To find out the best product, meaning the right  one for your body, considering the vast offer, it is best to consult a dermatologist before you start taking it.


From left: Resveratrol Stilvid Panted by REVIDOX . Tisanes Bio Drainantes CAUDALIE. Phytophanere Hair and Nails by PHYTO. Supplements OENOBIOL.


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Ecofriendly Aesop cosmetic line, follows the motto “less is more”: each product means is like an object of design, which expresses innovation, in a constant dialogue between raw materials of biological origin, scientific expertise, high-tech design.

In cosmetic “excellence” exists in some skin-care and hair care  lines. Brilliant brands which have gained international success over the years with very strong ethical values such as transparency, consistency and concreteness that condense each other into a single word, “nature”. From the eighties to today some of them have charted a solid future based on the research of ecofriendly technologies, giving more and more importance to the environment, to sources and renewable raw materials, to the maintenance of biodiversity.

DennisPaphitis_JamesBraundPDennis Paphitis photography by James Braund

A good example of international success for over five decades is indeed the one of Aesop, Australian cosmetic brand for body care, founded in Melbourne in 1987 by Dennis Paphitis, entrepreneur of greek- cypriot origins , coming from a family involved in the cosmetic industry. Its success is the dualism form = function, the modus operandi follows the slogan of famous German designer Mies van der Rohe, “less is more“: with reduction and synthesis each cosmetic product is like a design object called upon to resolve aesthetic issues with effective formulas, practical to use, in a constant dialogue between raw materials of biological origin, scientific expertise, high-tech design. All strictly of natural origin, including packaging.


We are committed to use only the highest quality plant extracts and we also add non-botanical elements such as anti-oxidants. Only after careful scientific research we agree on safety and efficacy“. Explain the spokesperson from the headquarters in Melbourne. Currently, out of a range that has more than 80 products, we can enumerate 621 ingredients of plant origin man-made and 321 synthetic compounds scientifically approved. It is an eco-oriented  line in the respect of the environment: Aesop cleaning products use surfactants that meet biodegradability criterias of the EU Detergents Directive and are compatible with septic systems refusal and are deprived of any phosphates suitable for use in water recycling systems. Another important aspect is that their products are not tested on animals.


The one of Aesop is a form of modernism perfectly conscious. The line is aimed to aware customers, demanding, super informed and always looking for innovative products, environmentally friendly; a radical-chic target, grown in the shade of new-age environments, that nurtures a certain mistrust towards the traditional beauty industry considered too extreme. Credibility and integrity of this brand is also linked to the authenticity and simplicity of its functional bottles design : as pharmaceutical products, there is a list of all substances, usually printed on the back of the package, on a label on the front of the bottle, highlighting aspects of clarity and transparency.


AESOP Skin Parsley Hydrator

The popular Aesop range with “Parsley Seeds”  must have line of the brand, from this month include a new product: Parsely Seed Anti-Oxidant Hydrator. The formula is made from an extract of parsley seeds, white tea, ephilobio and Provitamin B5 and seven essential oils, it is an essential cure for those who live in the city and fights the effects of pollution, its light texture is easily absorbed even for those who live in hot and humid climates. “Thanks to this formula, we have achieved a remarkable level of hydration, with a strong anti-oxidant effect” explains Kate Forbes, Director of Research and Development. Aesop is not just a cosmetic brand but a philosophy of healthy living in a constant balance with nature; its 65 stores in the world testify the belief according to which the architecture, smart design, respect for nature, have the power to radically transform human experience.


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Curiously browsing through the pages of “La Repubblica”, an old number found by chance under a pile of books in my library, I was surprised to read an essay by Paul Ricoeur. The complex relationship of identity with time. According to the french philosopher, it requires the constant use of memory both collective and biographical. Reflecting on the contribution that I could given to the review of Floral Water Valentina by Valentino, it seemed to me that the question posed by Ricoeur, constituted a possible interpretation. Temporal distance is a vantage point of observation that allows us to contemplate from a distance moments gone forever and the melancholic feeling of nostalgia that surprises us whenever we hear a particular scent is reflected in the glossy reflection of deatchment.


Eau de Toilette Floral Water Valentina by VALENTINO

The maitre parfumier Oliver Cresp, creator of Eau de Toilette by Valentino, proposes a journey back to a glorious past with a mix of images and visual stimuli, a vitaminic “Valentino juice”. Cresp translates into a reassuring hug, a distillate of emotional overtones, coming from ancient memories of frescoed rooms of historical Roman palaces and their luxurios secret gardens. The geographical and anthropological location, intimate and hidden, around the house of the couturier, becomes the search for “new”, which aims to reconstruct a geographical copyright, with sights and smells linked to the brand, to make it persistent over time; here beauty doesnt go through with what you show, but  with what is subtracted from our view and returned under the form of a fragrance.  Temporal distance together with lived place imply the ability and willingness to be moved and touched by the memory that assembles with the odors, modern myths of recognition. Smells are like this, there to control emotional life until  they make us slaves.


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What is beautiful? What is bad-looking? The good and the ungly are relative in different times and cultures, even though over the centuries it has been tried several times to define templates to define what was beautiful and what was not. The concept of ugliness is more and more immediate today. Cruelty and the macabre that characterize contemporary society, from movies to video games, sublimate the concept of monstrous that no longer coincides with being bad. Contemporary art celebrates the ugly also in a provocative sense, stimulating disgust and fear, but also arousing charm, mystery and erotism, as it emerges  from the photographic work  of Joel-Peter Witkin (New York 1939) who arrives to the MNFA of Florence, (until June 24th) thanks to the collaboration between Fratelli Alinari and Baudoin Lebon Gallery, in Paris.


Still life with breast, 2001 © JOEL-PETER WITKIN, courtesy Baudoin Lebon

A journey of 55 selected works proposes an inventory of enigmatic images that summarize central themes of his work:  love for fetid rotting flesh, religious restlessness, nudity, links with eros, suffering, pleasure , but also deterioration and death. Debunking works arouse a sense of inadequacy and dark ominous. They open a hole in our sweetened visions of order and beauty. Witkin’s compositions narrate photographic reinterpretations of art history with the reconstruction of painful natures, laid with care and with a taste oriented to monstrous charm. They create a world in the middle, to the edge of surreal, where figures cut out spaces of afterlife, within which to pose. His mortuary love turns this way into inconcievable ability to represent death and its decay.


Prudence 1996 © JOEL-PETER WITKIN, courtesy Baudoin Lebon

His works are full of formal citations among which we can recognize the great names in history of photography, such as Muybridge, Rejlander and Holland Day, intertwined with Greek and Roman sculpture and with baroque, neoclassical and modern art. Portrayed scenes are full of references, more or less explicit, to the great masters of art, from Bosch to Velasquez, from Goya to Manet. Witkin faces their own same problems using unusual models, with a freak charm, androgynous, dwarves, cripples, hermaphrodites. He himself says that before shooting, he draws the idea that  hewants to accomplish. He makes sure that the metaphysical creative act takes shape even before it is put into practice. The model-dead body seen as an outrageous object, becomes something else compared to the proportions of the body usually seen in art.


Coubet in rejlander’s Pool, New Mexico, 1985 © JOEL-PETER WITKIN, courtesy Baudoin Lebon

Over the centuries,  art has come back with insistence to represent the aesthetics of ugly, accepting pain of death to sing its own experiments of death-in-life and tell the whole transience of life, awareness of pain, tragedy but also the post-modern anxiety of new, gruesome icons. Witkin’s works have been exhibited in major museums and international art centers;  in 1999 he was named Chevalier de l’Ordre des Art set des Lettres and in 2000 Commandeur of the same honorary French order.


Self Portrait, reminiscent as a Self Portrait as a Vanité, 1995 © JOEL-PETER WITKIN courtesy Baudoin Lebon

How did your interest in photography start? I ws born in 1939. During WWII, my father would show me pictures in newspapers of the devastation. As a child, I believed the entire world (except where we lived in Brooklyn) was being destroyed. I was fascinated by all those pictures. i wanted to make photographs in order to make sense of the world in the time I had to live in this life. Looking at your photographs you can not notice the theme of nakedness linked to suffering and pleasure. By whom and what are you inspired? The themes of Splendour and Misery for me are Alfa and the Omega of life-the extremes of goodness and evil. My models are usually naked because in that way, they are timeless. The history of the Catholic faith has always been my vision of life. Your works, by formal approach, look more like paintings than photographs. How did you develop this type of printing technique? Most photographs are worthless beacuse they have no basis in fact ou purpose. My photographs reflect the history of western Civilization and the moral decisions of that history. I developed my singular vision through years of personal and aesthetic development. Dwarfs, cripples, abundant women, hermaphrodites, androgens. It looks like a freak show casting. Where does the decision to focus on models out of the norm come from? My Italian grandmother, who raised me, was a cripple. i loved her for her soul, not what she looked like. My first photographs were made at a “Freak Show” (I detest that term because it is demoralizing and mean) in Coney Isalnd when I was sixteen years old. To me, these people were “beyond normal”. They showed the genius of God and our need to love.lineaa

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