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REVIEWS|Books|Girls by Doralba Picerno

Doralba has an eye for ’em!

Doralba Picerno
Pictropia Publishing (£25 + p&p)       

Doralba Picerno progressed during the late 1990s from student of photo-journalism with an interest in portraying tattooed and pierced youth to creator of iconic fetish images for Skin Two and many other ‘underground’ magazines.

Her arrival in London coincided with a significant period of upheaval in fetish photography. The earlier ’90s had seen the visual language of fetishism transformed by the likes of Peter Ashworth and Kevin Davies from moody monochrome to glorious colour, and Doralba was among the first of the generation following them to capture kinkery with the vividly saturated hues of cross-processing.

In my rôle as Skin Two editor, I was kept well supplied with vibrant reportage from her numerous excursions to London fetish clubs, and with regular offerings of full-on fashion shoots created in her small makeshift home studio.

But it wasn’t just her technique that gave Doralba an edge. She came along when women were assuming for the first time many fetish industry rôles previously occupied solely by men, and were making names for themselves as pioneering fetish journalists, web designers and, yes, photographers.

As both Doralba and her English contemporary Emma Delves-Broughton quickly discovered, a woman behind the lens could coax from her models responses that evaded their male counterparts. The work of both these women, though different in style, enabled us to see fetishism for the first time through the eyes of young, modern, empowered female pervs. They showed us a new generation of kinky women collaborating and colluding with the camera rather than merely being fetishised objects observed by it.

As the ’90s drew to a close, Doralba got her first Skin Two cover with issue 28, celebrating the launch of London designer Pigalle’s own-brand latex range. The image, included in Girls (and our gallery from the book) well deserves the iconic status it soon acquired.

Two issues later, a side-on shot of exotic Liverpudlian model Natalie wearing a J Designs corset won Doralba her second cover from Skin Two. Ironically, the publisher’s notorious aversion to cleavage had led him to rule that the obvious cover image from the shoot, featuring Natalie front-on, could only be used inside the magazine. Today it is Doralba’s best-known (and most often stolen) image, so as a choice for the cover of her own book, it was a no-brainer.

This kind of iconic work set the standards Doralba has continued to aim for, and it is gratifying to see so many of her carefully created and characterful images collected together in a single, beautifully printed volume. Evoking the heyday of fetish coffee-table books, its 180 pages are just bursting with fetishistic pulchritude and attitude.

Girls also reminds us that Doralba (like Emma D-B) has been an enthusiastic spotter and bringer-on of new modelling talent. Many well-established models from both sides of the Atlantic posed for her in London when they were just starting out.

The roll-call of talent in these pages — it includes Darenzia, Emily Marilyn, Helen Lane, Esmé, Kumi, Lydia Morgan, Masuimi Max, Morrigan Hel, Persephone, Valeria Dragova and Vanessa Upton — should tell you everything you need to know about Doralba Picerno’s importance to modern fetish photography. Girls is a great big helping of fetish visual history that deserves to be on everyone’s bookshelf. TM

Click the links in the left hand column to take you to our Doralba Picerno portfolio feature, visit Doralba’s website or order the book from Pictropia

Monday, 11 February 2008


Monday, 11 February 2008

GIRLS ALLOWED, top to bottom: Natalie book cover, Masuimi Max, Pigalle Skin Two cover, Vanessa Upton (all photos: Doralba Picerno)
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