Icons of Style

One century of fashion photography on display in Los Angeles

  • Icons of Style

160 fashion photographs taken by over 80 photographers and representative of a whole century of evolution of costume and society: these are the numbers of Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography 1911-2011, the exhibition that will take place at J.Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles from June 26thto October 21st, 2018.
Fashion photography is the mirror of the company to which it is addressed precisely because it is, first of all, commercial photography and therefore necessarily effective in attracting the attention, and aligned with the curiosities of the moment.
Whether it is in the form of a cover, an illustration, a video, an advertisement or a report, when fashion photography becomes one with creativity (and desire), the result is the faithful portrait of the aspirations of an era. Aspirations, not reality, but no less significant for reconstructing a period of history and deserving a retrospective of an author in a prestigious space.
During the depression of the 1920s the emphasis that magazine put on glamor responded to a real need for escape, whereas in the years of the Second World War, especially in the United States, a pragmatic, confident and enthusiastic vision of life replaced the previous one.
Fashion photography is always a symptom of the spirit of time: the rebirth of the 1950s is all in the lenses of Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, who celebrated the magnificence that came from Paris with the creations of Cristòbal Balenciaga and Christian Dior , among others.
The costume revolution in the 1960s can be found the 35mm film photos by William Klein, who got closer to the new street culture, or in the psychedelic and surreal aesthetics of Neil Barr. The 1970s introduced diversity, involving people with different backgrounds, ages and attitudes, in line with the spirit of the time, between experimentations and avant-garde.
The 1980s were the years of the Italian limelight: from Versace to Giorgio Armani, Milan became the core of fashion, supermodels were born and fashion photography became an object of daily consumption, a popular heritage and a reservoir of dreams that will nurture a whole decade. The thrill ended on the threshold of the 1990s when, from a slowdown in the economy, the melancholy of grunge and minimalism arose. 
By telling this whole story, the exhibition manages to bring images born for commercial purposes but filtered by the genius and talent of some of the greatest masters of photography into a major museum. 
The final part is devoted to the definitive shift of fashion photography from the catwalks to the street, via fashion blogs (starting from The Sartorialistby Scott Schuman) and Instagram. Is this where the great photographers we will remember in a century from now train and grow? Only time will tell.

Author : The Slowear Journal


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