The Grandfather Of The Fashion Editorial
Before there was Steven, Mert, Marcus, Inez, Vinoodh, or even Irving, there was—wait for it—the Baron. If that name (Baron Adolph de Meyer, in full) means less to glossy devotees than the names of some of his later followers in the fashion-photo arts, blame the magazine world’s short memory. De Meyer, an amateur photographer taken on staff at Vogue in 1913 to give the still-small magazine a little high-society boost, created the editorial fashion spread as we know it. (Before him, Vogue carried mostly illustrations of dresses.) And as a new show of his work at NYC’s Robert Miller Gallery attests, we’re very much in his debt.
Looking through de Meyer’s photographs of turn-of-the-century beauties and celebrities—his wife and muse, Baroness Olga; Condé Nast’s own daughter Natica Nast (pictured); his famous shot of Nijinsky dancing L’après-midi d’un faun—what’s most striking is how contemporary they seem. (With the elaborate scene setting and masterful lighting, several of the photos, especially those of the Baroness, look like shots styled by Grace Coddington or Alex White.) But though the historical comparisons are impossible to ignore, the show aims to give de Meyer his artistic due, to “emphasize the strength of the images,” says curator Paul Richert-Garcia, “rather than present an historical survey.” Not bad for a so-called amateur.
Baron Adolph de Meyer runs through April 3 at Robert Miller Gallery, 524 W. 26th St., NYC, (212) 366-4774, www.robertmillergallery.com.
Photo: Courtesy of Robert Miller Gallery