Last night The Photographers’ Gallery (the U.K.’s first independent gallery devoted to photography) previewed Fashion in the Mirror: Self-Reflection in Fashion Photography. This body of work is curated by Michel Mallard and Raphaëlle Stopin, organizers of the annual International Fashion and Photography Festival in Hyères (www.villanoailles-hyeres.com/hyeres2008).
The exhibition exemplifies the Gallery’s commitment to showcasing international photographs and broadening the boundaries between art and fashion.
The birth of fashion photography as the visual representation of glamour, seduction and dreams took place within the photographer’s studio. The post World War II period saw a new breed of fashion photographers venturing out of their studios in search of more realistic, alternative locations. More recently, notably in the 1990s with its championing of the so-called ‘grunge’ style, the fashion photograph has persisted in trying to shake off its image of being purely decorative.
The photographers in Fashion in the Mirror seek their subject matter within rather than beyond their own field. The works in the exhibition deconstruct the image-making process and lay bare the basic principles of the fashion photograph; the way it is staged, its artificiality and the notion of ‘perfect beauty,’ finding both comedy and poetry in the set-up of the studio. The exhibition will present an overview of this self-examination and an intriguing look behind-the-scenes from the 1940s to the present day.
The exhibit features work by twenty-one-world renown photographers, including Grégoire Alexandre, Richard Avedon, Terence Donovan, Steven Klein, William Klein, Nick Knight, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin , Saul Leiter, Steven Meisel, Helmut Newton, Norman Parkinson Harri Peccinotti, Irving Penn, John Rawlings, Bob Richardson, Melvin Sokolsky, Bert Stern, Juergen Teller, Mario Testino, Jonathan de Villiers and Tim Walker.
In many of these works the photographer includes themselves in the photograph. They depict themselves in the process of being photographed, simultaneously creating a self-portrait, as well as a portrait of the model in one image.
The addition of assistants, stylists and photographic equipment within the photograph draws attention to the cliché of the ‘fashion entourage’ and queries the myth of the slick fashion image.
Some pieces appear artificiality staged in a studio setting, and others are candids shot on location, surrounded by nature’s beauty.
The exhibition officially opens July 18th and runs through September 14th.
More information is available at www.photonet.org.uk.