Fashion Photography In The Last Century

Peter Lindbergh Vogue Italia March 1989 © Peter Lindbergh

Peter Lindbergh Vogue Italia March 1989 © Peter Lindbergh

MILAN, Italy — ‘Fashion’, a very simple title  for a very structured exhibition on fashion photography from 1676s to the present day is currently running until 7th April 2013 at the Fondazione Forma per la Fotografia in the fashionable Lombard capital, Milan.

Curated by Nathalie Herschdorfer, this fantastic exhibition brings together an extraordinary selection of images from Condé Nast archives in New York, Paris, London, and Milan, that beautifully tells us the history of fashion photography, through rare and delicate works, from its beginning to the present day. Most of the images on display come from Vogue giving you the perfect opportunity to meticulously observe the changes photography has gone throughout the years.

Norman Parkinson Glamour October 1949
© Norman Parkinson Limited

Constantin Joffé American Vogue
September 1945 © Condé Nast

Solve Sundsbo Love Spring-Summer 2011
© Solve Sundsbo Art Commerce

In a sense, we can say that fashion photography was born with Vogue when Edward Steichenone of the first photographers to shoot for the magazine, acquired the prestigious magazine in 1909. From then on, the story of fashion started to be told through the lens of creative international photographers that no longer were bringing their work exclusively in delicate nineteenth-century illustrations, but were contributing with their own interpretation of visual art.

Over subsequent decades fashion photography continued to evolve up to a point where it now no longer has to prove its value. To the  contrary, and thanks to the talent and dedication of the professionals that drive the industry, it has become a powerful and well established artistic language directly linked with fashion as a business. As a consequence, the role of photographers has been strengthened and models have progressed from marginal figures to key players in the industry and international style icons.

Fashion photography is a team effort, in which the photographer is joined by editors, models, make-up artists and stylists to create that perfect image that will captivate their audience. It is the indissoluble bond between photographers and editors that leads to the most creative, provocative and richly interpretive collaborations.

From Steichen and Beaton to Guy Bourdin, Peter Lindbergh, and countless others, photography’s great creative possibilities  found fertile ground in the pages of the Condé Nast magazines, and there brought dreams and visions of fashion to life. In addition to shoots by forefathers like Cecil Beaton, Man Ray, Edward Steichen, and Horst P. Horst, the exhibition includes works by Helmut Newton, Mario Testino, Paolo Roversi, Peter Lindbergh, Tim Walker, Erwin Blumenfeld, David Bailey, Guy Bourdin, Sølve Sundsbø, to mention a few.

In the exhibition you can find a vast collection of old magazines with some of the most striking cover shots. The oldest magazines are quite different from the ones produced in the past twenty years. In some instances, there were no illustrations or images on these magazines, something that nowadays would be impossible to imagine!

Needless to say, this is a unique occasion to see the work of so many great photographers all at once!

If you want to get further insight into how photographers and editors collaborate check From behind the Scenes.

Miles Aldridge Vogue Italia September 2002 © Miles Aldridge

Miles Aldridge Vogue Italia September 2002 © Miles Aldridge

Courtesy by: FONDAZIONE FORMA | Website:  |  Edited by: Elizabeth Deheza

Alessandra Lolli About the author

Jet setting, multilingual fashionista brings us lifestyle and fashion tips from “the Milanese” and around Europe. With a B.A. in Business Communications and a strong background in international PR, she can captivate audiences around the world.