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No Safety Helmut
What do you get when you mix a good cause with awesome photography, Marc Moore naked and a whole bunch of hipsters drinking 42 Below cocktails out of jam jars? A charity initiative by the fashion kings of cool, Stolen Girlfriends Club, thats what.
Wanting to step out of the box during Sydney Fashion week this year, Stolen Girlfriends Club presented a photographic exhibition in lieu of a catwalk show. It proved a hit so the idea was repeated in Auckland, with the images to be auctioned off for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation. Ten photographers were asked to re-enact their favourite image from the late great Helmut Newton who, according to Stolen Girlfriends Club, is perhaps the single most influential, intriguing and controversial photographer of all time.
After making my way through the buzzing crowd and beefy bouncers outside the gallery, I stepped inside to be immediately greeted by full-frontal nudity. I had a brief internal giggle, gathered my composure and moved forward to examine the nuddy woman on crutches more closely. She was 2D and not quite life-sized. She was also the subject of the first of the 10 images, this particular one by Karen Inderbitzen-Waller.
What followed were nine more beautiful, yet sometimes disconcerting, images, nearly all of which displayed nude women - a theme which Helmut was known for. I had two personal favourites. The first was taken by David Shields and featured a clothed woman wearing fantastic boots and a beautiful smile. The second, by Derek Henderson, displayed a woman (again with great footwear) lying in a forest, leaning up against a bear. In both of these images the woman stared straight down the lens of the camera, drawing me in. However, while I felt like I wanted to be the best friend of Shields' woman, I was almost intimidated by Hendersons. She looked as though she was ready to jump on me. She was naked and she was dangerous. I felt as though if I wasnt in a crowded room I might have run screaming, yet Im not sure I would have been able to because she drew me to her like a magnet. Interestingly, this photograph fetched the most amount of money for the AIDS Foundation by quite a significant amount, raising $2000. Stolen Girlfriends Club submitted an image themselves which prior to the event they stated was perhaps the most shocking of all. It possibly was, if only because it featured a naked Marc in place of a naked woman.
It wasnt all about the art however. The atmosphere of the gallery was great and almost as appealing as studying the photographs was seeing the fantastic outfits punters were wearing. Adding to the atmosphere was a group of beautiful women dressed as Helmut models, wearing black bob wigs and red lipstick, who spent the evening stalking the gallery. One of these models starred in a live presentation of a Helmut photograph, sitting in an installation on a toilet in the corner of the room, reading a newspaper behind a chain link fence. I wasnt quite sure where to look.
The evening was a great success. A fantastic amount was raised for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation with most images selling for over $1000. As was stated on my invitation, Its cool to spend money on a good cause and the guests at No Safety Helmut came together to prove that.
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