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Icons of Style | A Century of Fashion Photography, 1911-2011

Icons of Style | A Century of Fashion Photography, 1911-2011

What remains most enticing about photography is its manner of intertwining both visual and emotional depths. Beyond giving us those aesthetic feels —  it’s also the investment of sensibility behind each subject that births an impactful photographer; a notion soon to be celebrated at LA’s ‘Icons of Style’ exhibition, this June.

In unveiling the rich and diverse history of modern fashion photography, the event promises some deep inspiration — in exploring the ways in which photographers whose careers have been closely associated with the industry, have shaped evolving notions of style and beauty.

Announced last week, the museum aims to illuminate the intimate and aesthetic changes in the field over the course of a century. As Louise Alexander Gallery proudly invites us to witness the work of Guy Bourdin, acquired by The Getty in 2017, the Icons of Style exhibition traces one hundred years of fashion photography, highlighting iconic moments and figures in fashion history.



Vintage costumes will be displayed alongside the photographs, in addition to fashion illustrations, advertisements, and tear sheets. This ephemera shows how fashion photography reaches beyond magazine pages to infiltrate everyday life. Now though the primary initiative of such photography was revolved around advertising, it has since transcended into a great art form in its own right — even reflecting a culture’s social, political, and economic change. And in light of this notion, the new possibilities for fashion photography will also be examined in the exhibition’s final stages, with focuses on Instagram and the rise of street-style blogs such as The Sartorialist — speaking to our generation entirely.

So considering this journey (which looks to awaken both our minds and senses) the idea of an exclusive glance into each photographer’s creative expression, is something we probably only dreamt of experiencing until this point. Noted to be the ‘most comprehensive exploration yet undertaken of fashion photography’ — this phenomenon is one which hasn’t always found a place in museums … until recently. “Once overlooked by collectors and museums because of its commercial origins, fashion photography is now recognized as having produced some of the most creative work of the twentieth century” explains Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “Museums, however, have been slow to embrace this genre. The time seems ripe to present a sweeping overview of the finest examples of fashion photography produced over the past century”.

Personally, I don’t believe the line up of photographers could have been better curated. As the exhibition weaves its way through the most iconic moments in the realm of fashion photography, its a pleasure to find that this incorporates some of our favourite — and perhaps most controversial and thought provoking artists — of our time, and beyond. Through the selection of works, ‘100 Years of Fashion Photograph’ will include more than 160 photographs, alongside costumes, illustrations, magazine covers, videos and advertisements. Among these, we can find the œuvres of Inez & Vinoodh, Peter Lindbergh, Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Herb Ritts, Man Ray and so many more — enough inspiration to keep us on a high till 2019 it seems.

Icons of Style | A Century of Fashion Photography, 1911-2011″ will be on view June 26 to from October 21 at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

by Amel Meghraoua
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