credit: © Les Francaises by Sonia Sieff, Rizzoli new York, 2017.
[A review copy was sent to me by the publisher.]
What I discovered was the complete opposite of the male-oriented gaze that I had anticipated: the images featured in this volume are taken from Sonia's female perspective and her ability to highlight the nude body--the 'natural state'--without sexualizing it was very intriguing.
The photographs are soft, intimate, and what sensuality does exist is not forced. There are no overt "seductive" or "sexual" poses, but rather images that capture a moment in time, a personality, a hobby, a favorite place, a secret. A woman standing in the window of a centuries-old home, smiling through the green foliage that has grown up around it; a woman, hand on her forehead, lost in thought while seated in a dusty old movie theater; a woman sitting on a plush chair while thoughtfully perusing a carefully curated bookshelf behind her; a woman sitting on a log at the beach, watching a wave come to shore as the wind blows her hair. As Sonia herself describes, "Au naturel, they reveal their world, their secrets. These are portraits of women whom I admire. They could all be sisters or friends."
I would recommend Les Françaises if you are interested in avant-garde French photography or a intimate look at the female nude through a talented female photographer's lens.