In the late 80’s and during the 90’s fashion photography changed and still is undoubtedly influenced by these changes. It was a result of collaborations between designers, stylists and photographers. No one was interested anymore in over-produced imagery, instead the new generation in fashion was looking at their surroundings like their friends, the street and the local neighborhood. This was often referred to as ‘grunge’, but actually it was more a kind of realness.
The new super-real fashion photography was full of photos that draw from the gestures and demons of the documentary subjects of Larry Clark and Nan Goldin, whose most influential work has been confessional diaries of downtrodden lives. Photographer Corinne Day was most influenced by Nan Goldin. The fashion super-realists showed the seemingly snapshot spontaneity, in high contrast to the perfectionist fashion pictures of the 1980’s; they rejected the staged studio’s lighting, seamless paper and seamless images.
Some critics have accused Nan Goldin of making heroin-use appear glamorous, and of pioneering a grunge style that later became popularized by youth fashion magazines. However, in a 2002 interview with The Observer, Goldin herself called the use of ‘heroin chic’ to sell clothes and perfumes ‘reprehensible and evil’.
Nan Goldin photographs
Corinne Day Photographs
Under the new fashion collaborators were Mario Soretti & Kate Moss (boyfriend& girlfriend), David Sims & Emma Balfour (boyfriend&girlfriend), David Sims & Guido Palau (hairdresser), Juergen Teller & Venetia Scott (stylist and his 1st wife), Juergen Teller & Helmut Lang and Nick Knight & Yohji Yamamoto. They found a platform for their work in magazines suchs as The face, Purple, Dazed and confused, I-D and Six from Comme Des Garçons.
Kate Moss & Mario Sorrenti
David Sims ‘Are friends electric’
The Face, november 1993. Model Emma Balfour
David Sims cover I-D
Helmut Lang told a young Juergen Teller approached him to photograph his work backstage because he liked what Lang was doing. Juergen teller produced phenomenal images. Lang thought they acted as an extension to his work and used them for his next campaign.
Juergen teller Backstage at Helmut Lang
Juergen Teller & Venetia Scott
Jason Evans & Simon Foxton
Jason Evans (born 1968) is a Welsh photographer best known work is a series of portraits of young black men dressed as ‘country gents’ made in collaboration with stylist Simon Foxton and which were acquired for the permanent collection of the Tate Gallery in 2004. Characterizing his photo-series Strictly, Evans said: “Strictly was a weird mixture of macho clothes and quite effeminate clothes. Sportswear-based but classical English things, turned around. The syntax of clothes was completely upside down, and then worn by black people, it was a new vision of Britain. We were trying to break down stereotypes.” The series first appeared in the I-D in 1991.
Evans got in contact with Nick Knight after seeing his work in Arena(magazine) in 1989. ‘Those pictures characterized a place I wanted to be emotionally and physically, but hadn’t previously known. I think this is what great fashion pictures can do…. propose a way of being.’
90ties photography in advertising
Advertising also altered in the 90’s, because it obsorbed the new trends and aesthetics very quickly. Once more, Calvin Klein was the first to bring the newest fashion photography, documentary-style realism, into the his advertising for CK Be. This created a huge stir….
One of many critics to CK be campaign
The photos depicted being pale, disheveled, dirty, tired, strung out, starved, scratched, pierced, and tattooed. While these explicit images provoked critique, what was more disturbing (at least to this author) was the placement of Moss (or in other CK ads, another straight-looking male model) at the end of pictorial sequences of junkie-looking models, and under the slogan “just be.” Moss and other end-positioned models appeared anorexic thin, but otherwise strikingly normal/straight looking compared with the other models. ….. Playing at the “hotness,” the “coolness” or the “hipness” of being a “bad” junkie—the dangerous exotic other—was thus produced and consumed as safe and familiar consumer play.Calvin Klein’s commodified promise was that one could emerge unscathed when traveling to and through radical superficial otherness, emerging with conventional identity intact. (by Karen Bettez Halnon, ”Heroin Chic, Poor Chic, and Beyond Deconstructionist Distraction” in Consumers, Commodities and Consumption, Vol. 11, No. 1, December 2009, emphasis Halnon’s own)
But as raw as the images looked, they constituted just another fashion fantasy, this one a newly pervasive fantasy of reality. Even if bruises, scars and underarm hair showed, the models were still there to sell something.
”What we’re seeing is a collective attraction to something that seems to symbolize, in quotes, reality,” said Ingrid Sischy, the editor of Interview magazine and the former photography and fashion critic for The New Yorker. ”But of course, reality is more complicated than that. Not all reality is a bruise. Reality can also be a sunny day.”
Mario Sorrenti for Calvin Klein
Nowadays almost all boundaries (in fashion and commercial photography) are broken and the collaborations are strategic and just moneymaking machines like Yayoi Kusama for Louis Vuitton, Damian Hirst for Levi and all collaborations of Nike and Adidas with various fashion designers…
Next week more about Fashion Photography….David Sims