The Power of Fashion Photography: Capturing History and Shifting Perspectives
Fashion photography is much more than just a showcase of great outfits. It has the power to capture a moment in history and serve as a portrait of society at that time. Whether it’s Twiggy challenging the establishment with her youthful charm or Katharine Hamnett using her “58% DON’T WANT PERSHING” T-shirt to protest against nuclear missiles, these photographs tell a story beyond fashion.
In her book, the Vogue Book of Fashion Photography, Polly Devlin explains that these images offer a unique view of women and their desires, expectations, and how they were perceived. They reflect the changing role of women in the workplace, the battles fought for sexual freedom, and the political climate of the era.
However, fashion photography has often been told from the perspective of the beholder, with many images now being seen as shocking due to the abuse they perpetuated. Models like Kate Moss have revealed the emotional toll they experienced during early shoots, highlighting the need for more empathy behind the lens.
Fortunately, the female gaze is starting to shift this power dynamic. With more women behind the camera in the 21st century, the sexualized tropes of men photographing women are becoming outdated. This shift has revolutionized the way we view and talk about models, expanding our definition of beauty beyond the traditional standards of the past.
Social media has also played a significant role in transforming the fashion landscape. It has given a platform to diverse voices and challenged the industry’s traditional chain of command. Models like Sophie Dahl and Donyale Luna broke boundaries and paved the way for greater inclusivity.
The best fashion photographs have a certain magic to them. They can stop you in your tracks, just like hearing a great pop song for the first time. However, not all fashion images have this power. Many are too airless and transactional, designed solely to sell products. Yet, it is precisely this commercial aspect that makes them compelling, as they reflect the story of consumerism and how it has cannibalized our identity as citizens.
The most memorable fashion photographs have had a lasting impact on our style choices. Whether it’s the introduction of Yves Saint Laurent’s tuxedo trouser suit or Tom Ford unfastening a few extra buttons on a Gucci silk shirt, these images have reshaped fashion and rewritten the rules of etiquette.
Fashion photography can also reveal truths that were not fully understood at the time. The spectacle of Shalom Harlow being spray-painted on the Alexander McQueen catwalk in 1998 captures a sense of power and agency shifting from humans to robots, foreshadowing the age of AI.
Fashion may often seem like a fantasy, but these photographs speak a truth that resonates. They serve as a mirror of societal needs, desires, and the changes happening around us. As we continue to evolve, fashion photography will undoubtedly play a crucial role in capturing our collective history.
Original Article: [The Guardian – Fashion](https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2022/jun/07/fashion-photography-100-years-anna-wintour)
Original Story at www.theguardian.com – 2023-11-18 07:00:00