A stylish selection of the world’s leading fashion photographers forms a new exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery, looking beyond the lens and behind the scenes to ‘undress the theatre of fashion‘ and question the notion of perfect beauty as captured on camera.
Fashion photographers find themselves the subjects of shoots in this overview of self-examination, featuring work spanning four decades and twenty-two photographers from Norman Parkinson to Nick Knight. Exposing the seemingly glamorous goings-on of a glossy fashion shoot as a frantic and frenzied scene executed with military precision, the exhibition presents both the parody and poetry of the fashion photograph. Arranged in a random if erratic manner the photos presented form no clear correlation but stand alone as statements of style. A 70s Vogue spread sees stylist Polly Mellen preening model Lauren Hutton to perfection whilst Nova archives from the same decade display Helmut Newton’s trademark voyeurism in the striking and seductive Caught Underwears. Provocative and powerful, the standout images include a giant print of Snejana Onopka dressed as editrice du jour Anna Wintour for Vogue Paris and Bert Stern capturing David Bailey looming over model Veruschka as she strikes a pose for the magazine’s British counterpart in a scene that recalls the infamous Blowup tryst.
Viewing such iconic work set against stark white backdrops proves a dramatic and dynamic experience. The arrangement of Vogue Italia copies presenting a Supermodels Enter Rehab fashion story seemed a little redundant but it was intriguing nonetheless to view fashion darlings Agyness and Sasha in their trendy tribute to Girl, Interrupted. Elsewhere the essence of the Swinging 60s is captured in three technicolour prints of Twiggy’s Young London and Karl Lagerfeld becomes a political figure in fashion with Chanel-clad followers holding banners adorned with his image in an almost Fascist tribute.
The exhibition is essential viewing for any fashion follower worth her stilettos, with just a hint of humour and bags of style. Aspiring style mavens can even upload their own fashion finds on an interactive website, where sartorial buried treasure will be displayed for all to see.
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