“Fashion photography didn’t really exist at that time, so they photographed dancers and actresses from Broadway rather than professional models,” says curator Nathalie Hershdorfer. “They knew how to pose and how to be on a stage.”
According to Hershdorfer, it could be argued that this sparked fashion’s current symbiotic relationship with celebrity culture.
“(Condé Nast founder Condé Montrose Nast) realized that if they hired actresses that were well-known, it was even better (for sales),” she says. “People would recognize them. That’s what’s still going on today.”
Many of the photos are highly produced studio efforts. But a 1962 black-and-white photo by David Bailey of a model in the street, looking away from the camera, captures the moment photographers started to experiment with a more natural approach.
“They thought, ‘We don’t need fashion editors and makeup artists. We just go out in the street and do our shooting,” explained Hershdorfer.
Fashion photography in Asia
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