6 posts tagged "Irving Penn"
In past interviews, Mario Testino has alluded that his childhood in Peru was that of a misfit. He was the fashion-crazed oddball in a traditional Catholic family, and by his early twenties, he had left his native Lima for London. So it would seem a touch ironic that Testino returned to Peru to shoot what are arguably some of the most fantastical fashions of his career. Alta Moda, on view at Manhattan’s Queen Sofia Spanish Institute, is the culmination of five years’ work photographing traditional costumes worn by the people of the mountain city of Cusco. All twenty-seven images on view are a window into a lush world rarely seen—particularly by Testino’s usual audiences. The opulent outfits were shot against a traditional painted backdrop from the archives of Martin Chambi, Peru’s seminal indigenous photographer. Below, Testino talks to Style.com about the couture-caliber costumes, his fascination with tradition, and the show’s notable departure from his usual oeuvre.
The name of the show is Alta Moda. What similarities did you see between these costumes and traditional haute couture?
I am known more for shooting a dress like a couture dress, so I thought the game of words was interesting: on one side it’s called Alta Moda because [the costumes com from] the highest region of Peru and “alta” means “high.” The other reason was because these dresses have been made with the same care and the same attention with which a couture dress is made, and it’s lasted for hundreds of years. They repeat the same tradition of embroidery, of the stitching, of the weaving, and couture is like that. There’s a parallel to it, so I thought it made a lot of sense to use that name.
In terms of a jumping-off point with the costumes you were shooting, was it more of an aesthetic connection initially, or a cultural connection?
I think it is a mixture of cultural and aesthetic. This is something I have always been interested in. When you look at my career, in a funny way, I’ve always been doing things related to tradition. I do the royal families, I go to Seville for the holy week and the fair of Seville, when all Sevillians go out into the streets dressed in flamenco dresses, on their horses. I’ve done the same thing with the Catholic church. I did a little exhibition called Disciples, and I went to Rome and photographed all the bishops and the cardinals dressed in their costumes. So the whole resurgence of costumes is something that has always fascinated me, and I’m always being drawn back to it. I guess it’s a mixture between culture and beauty, and aesthetics.
As someone who doesn’t do many exhibitions, what made you want to show these images?
I opened a cultural institute in Peru called MATE, and I have to come up with exhibitions for them constantly. That’s what originally made me do this exhibition, because I thought it would be interesting for Peruvians to see something they have that maybe they don’t look at normally. It’s like everything: when you have it down your doorstep, you don’t look at it, and maybe you take it for granted. I went to do a job for British Vogue in this region, Cusco, which is the highest in Peru. The thing that brought me to discover this archive of treasures was that I asked for some costumes for some of my fashion pictures for the magazine, and when I saw the whole collection, I thought, “I have to document this.”
You used archival backdrops from the collection of Martin Chambi. What was your intention in doing that? Was it an homage?
I was very influenced when I saw an exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery in London of Martin Chambi in the early eighties, because being Peruvian, I didn’t know about this work, and when I discovered it, I was quite surprised, really, that somebody had documented so well a region that we were all a bit ignorant about. When I arrived in England, I taught myself everything about Europe by looking at photographers like Cecil Beaton, or August Sander, who documented their society, their country, their history, and when I saw this exhibition of Martin Chambi, his portraits were particularly amazing in front of these backdrops. But the thing that caught my attention the most was going to Peru and finding these costumes, it reminded me that I had seen once a picture of Irving Penn’s, from when he had gone to Peru and photographed children against these backdrops. I thought it was an interesting way to bring all the photos together, and to really concentrate on the clothes. Continue Reading “Mario Testino Goes Back To His Roots” »
“Our cover situation is drastic…We are on the verge of a drastic emergency.” So reads the first entry in the latest Diana Vreeland tome, Memos: The Vogue Years. Compiled by Vreeland’s grandson Alexander (the husband of Lisa Immordino Vreeland, who directed The Eye Has to Travel), the book features more than 250 of Vreeland’s infamous notes from her time at Vogue, which she’d dictate over the phone to her secretary while puffing on cigarettes in a wicker chair in the bathroom of her Park Avenue apartment. This, Alexander told us, was her preferred mode of communication. “She didn’t believe in meetings,” he said. His assertion is backed up by Diana’s memo to the Vogue team on page fifty-nine, in which she considers holding a meeting about the “controversial” topic of dress lengths, but resolves, “Usually, when we have meetings, we don’t get ideas and views from people.”
But it wasn’t just her staff whom she’d confront about everything from the importance of pearls and bangles to her annoyance with the mistreatment of her initials in her editor’s letter (above), to the necessity that Vogue‘s spreads “never, ever copy…any kind of coiffure that is reminiscent of the 30s, 40s, 50s,” via her rapier dictations. The book—which is available now from Rizzoli—also includes her correspondences with the likes of Richard (or Dick, as she called him) Avedon, Irving Penn (to whom she complains about lackluster tulips), Cecil Beaton, Cristobal Balenciaga (above), Halston, Veruschka, and beyond. Continue Reading “Did You Get The Memo? Diana Vreeland In Her Own Words” »
Since launching Acne Paper in 2004, the magazine’s editor in chief and creative director, Thomas Persson, has done far more than simply prove it’s not merely a glossy offset of the denim empire. This week, he’s in New York to fête the launch of the latest issue, number 13. And it’s a very fitting location for celebration—Acne is set to open its first flagship store and office (at 33 Greene Street) outside of Europe in Manhattan later this spring.
As for the latest 256-page edition, the theme is the human body. “We were interested in looking at the body from an artistic angle, one that is broader than the general representation of the human form in magazines today,” Persson tells Style.com. “I find that we are so obsessed with modern, rather boring beauty ideals, the perfectly chiseled, impersonal bodies often lacking in humanity, history, and a life lived. So we wanted to look at the human form as an inspiration beyond that.”
That vision carried over in interviews with the likes of Isabella Rossellini, Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn (pictured, above), Lillian Bassman, and Lola Schnabel, and rich photo essays to go with them. Here, Style.com has the exclusive first look at a few of the editorials, including Fonssagrives-Penn’s (with photos by her husband, Irving, selected by their son, Tom Penn) and Bassman’s—both are women that drew Persson’s attention for their glamour and sophistication.
“I have always admired Lillian Bassman’s work and had the great privilege of spending an afternoon with her last September,” Persson says of the late fashion photographer, who died just last month. “I was so taken by her wit and strength and character and was so sad when I got the news she had passed away. Our interview must have been the last she ever gave.” As for Fonssagrives-Penn, he says, “I wanted to show an amazing side of her that is not so well-known, which is that of an artist. She was an incredibly gifted sculptor and painter; her work is my favorite of any artist.”
“John Galliano has really tiny feet—almost childlike,” observed a guest at the opening of SHOWstudio Shop’s Blackwhite exhibition in London Friday night. She was inspecting a pair of well-worn ballet slippers owned by the Dior designer, along with a collection of other Galliano artifacts, assembled in a shoebox by Lady Amanda Harlech—one of the few people in the world, we imagine, who has access to this sort of thing—and dusted with a thick coating of white baby powder (pictured, above). Childlike? Well, as they say, if the shoe fits. “They were from when he was a child,” explained shop curator Carrie Scott. “I am guessing his feet have grown since then.”
The Galliano box was one of many pieces on sale at Nick Knight’s event, where every piece was on sale, and, true to the title, black and white. (The only spots of color were the red check marks on a vintage contact sheet of Cecil Beaton’s—a roll of shots of Audrey Hepburn in full My Fair Lady regalia.) Also on offer: Irving Penn’s iconic portrait of Lisa Fonssagrives in a harlequin-print cape; a few Chanel couture headpieces by Kamo; a Knight shot of Kate Moss; Michael Howells’ black and white Union Jack (pictured, top), which was used for the 25th anniversary of London fashion week in September 2009; and a disturbing white bondage table created by artist Peter Saville, complete with painful-looking prongs and harnesses. Its title? Fashion.
Blackwhite runs through June 19 at SHOWstudio.com Shop, 1-9 Bruton Pl., London, www.shop.showstudio.com.
It was announced earlier today that Irving Penn has passed away at the age of 92. The revered fashion photographer, known simply as Penn to those who worked with him, began shooting for Vogue in 1943 and over the course of his six-decades long tenure created some of the magazine’s most unexpected and unforgettable images. For more on Penn’s life and work, read The New York Times‘ obituary. Of course—and never more so than in this case—the proverbial power of an image speaks volumes. Here, a small selection of Penn’s iconic pictures.