4 posts tagged "Vince Aletti"
Acne Studios has rarely met an out-of-the-box idea it hasn’t liked. So though for most labels, publishing its own limited-edition collection of rodeo-rider portraits from a mid-century physique photographer wouldn’t be the first order of business, here it is. And so last night, with its usual clutch of models in tow—Hanne Gaby Odiele, Jacquelyn Jablonski, Ji Hye Park, et al.—Acne launched Rodeo, a hardbound book of photos from the collection of New Yorker critic Vince Aletti. Must be something in the air lately. As Hedi Slimane’s latest editorial suggested: Cowboys—they’re a thing.
Bruce of Los Angeles, little-known except among physique-photo aficionados, has nevertheless been influential among later photographers. Aletti traced elements of his style in the work of Mapplethorpe, Herb Ritts, and Bruce Weber. (The similarities were in some cases so striking, you could probably have bylined the book Bruce of Los Weber.) “It’s clear that he’s looked at it and had some appreciation of this period of work,” Aletti said between tête-à-têtes with Fran Lebowitz last night. “And I’d imagine he knows [of] some other photographer named Bruce.”
Unlike much of the photographer’s oeuvre, these rodeo shots are naturalistic, of real guys (rather than models) in their own clothes (rather than nude). Of course, exceptions apply. In any case, Acne took the opportunity to create a little capsule collection of clothes around them, too, for those who prefer to wear, rather than page through, their vintage beefcake. There are T-shirts, glammy cowboy boots stitched with appliqués of cowboys, and the traffic-stopping shirt modeled last night by the label’s Louise du Toit, available at Acne shops now.
School’s in—with Nick Knight, Ryan McGinley, Tim Walker, and Fabien Baron, no less. Beginning in the fall of 2011, the School of Visual Arts in New York is launching a new graduate program in fashion photography, the first of its kind on the scale being proposed. SVA’s Stephen Frailey and Art + Commerce founder Jimmy Moffat (pictured, left to right) will co-chair the program, which will draw its faculty and guest lecturers directly from fashion’s most marquee mastheads. (In addition to those mentioned above, Cathy Horyn, Pascal Dangin, Emma Reeves, and Glenn O’Brien will take part.) On the eve of the program’s announcement, Style.com checked in with Frailey to discuss what’s new, what’s next, and who he’s looking for.
Let’s talk back story. Why this program, why now?
It really seems like it’s a good time for it. As an academic, as someone who is in the classroom at an undergraduate level, I think often fashion photography has been marginalized by the students. Despite the fact that it takes an enormous amount of work and is collaborative, I really feel like it’s been on the sidelines of the photographic education, especially at an advanced level. I come from the art world, and I came to fashion photography fairly late. About ten years ago, I started noticing the amazing work that was in W. I began to realize that art photography had borrowed so much from fashion without necessarily acknowledging it—an interest in narrative, in the staged and fabricated image. At any rate, I felt like it was time for fashion to be considered among the more elevated photographic pursuits in higher education at the graduate level.
What will the curriculum be?
It’s a one-year program; the classes will occur in the evening and on Saturday. There will be two classes that will last the full year, 30 weeks. One will be a critique class, [whichS will have a rotating faculty; it’ll be collaboratively team-taught by Jimmy Moffat, Dennis Freedman [formerly of W], and Andrew Richardson. Then we’ll have a class called the Symposium class, taught by Emma Reeves [of V]. It’ll be an opportunity for everyone to gather together and to go to whatever is happening in New York at the time, whether it will be a guest lecture by Karl Lagerfeld or an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum or at galleries. Carol Squiers, who is a curator at the ICP, will be teaching a class on the history of fashion. I’ve been asked to have that class, by the way, streamed onto the SHOWstudio Web site. There’ll be a digital photography class for fashion photographers, which will be taught by Pascal Dangin [of Box Studios, and one of the most influential retouchers in fashion]. Not only will it be about technique, but also about some of the ethical issues of retouching, and the way that it creates a kind of utopian figure. And video, which is a very important part of the future of fashion photography. Continue Reading “SVA Launches A Master’s Program In Fashion Photography” »
Media fantasies about fashion usually revolve around pouting bodacious bombshells strutting down runways or preening for gushing photographers. But actual fashion aficionados know that such images are rarely at fashion’s true core, where genuine innovation often takes the form of “Weird Beauty.” That’s the title of the new International Center of Photography exhibition opening today with 20 original prints and hundreds of tear sheets from Steven Meisel, Cindy Sherman, Mario Sorrenti, Nick Knight, and Sølve Sundsbø. Weird Beauty aptly sums up the difficult delights gathered and presented by co-curators Carol Squiers and Vince Aletti. Style.com caught up with Aletti, the photography critic for The New Yorker and formerly a senior editor at The Village Voice for nearly 20 years, to discuss the powerful push/pull of jolie laide.
On its most basic level, fashion photography pushes products. How do the photographers in your exhibition express and enhance the desirability of the garments or items they represent?
Fashion photographers create a fantasy—sometimes a narrative, sometimes an elaborate stage set, sometimes just a mood—around a woman in clothes. Their work might be functional (their employers do want to promote clothes) but it’s never merely descriptive, and over the past two decades it’s become more and more atmospheric. Even in fashion advertising, the garment is often the last thing you notice, and certainly it wasn’t a prime consideration when we made our selection for Weird Beauty. Many of the photographers in the exhibition weave a powerful spell around their subject, and it was that spell, not the garment, that seduced us.
Some of the photographers in your show are primarily considered artists while others mostly fit into the fashion category. Besides the photographer’s own intention or self-definition, do you see differences between the artists and fashion photographers?
In a word, no. Whether it’s Collier Schorr or Mario Sorrenti, Cindy Sherman or Sølve Sundsbø , they’re all looking for ways to make something fairly routine engaging and surprising. Most of the artists working in fashion have been able to apply their distinctive style to the project, but the same can be said for the photographers whose prime focus is fashion. For all of them it’s about maintaining the integrity of their vision, and the fashion pros are just as concerned with this as artists who consider fashion a sideline.
You’ve taken images from both mainstream and indie or avant-garde publications. But do you think magazines with wider audiences like Vogue or Bazaar don’t get enough credit for being image innovators?
I don’t think anyone overlooks the historic importance of either magazine. They set the bar very high beginning in the 1930′s and for much of the last century. But there’s no question that these days, [they] are overshadowed by other younger and more adventurous fashion magazines, including some that give the same photographers (Steven Meisel, Steven Klein, and Peter Lindbergh, for instance) more freedom. For whatever reason, American Vogue and Bazaar are more conservative than their European counterparts, but Vogue maintains an impressively high standard. Any magazine that publishes Irving Penn on a regular basis cannot be ignored, and Annie Leibovitz has done some stunning fashion work for them.
Have you always been interested in fashion imagery?
My father was a serious amateur photographer who had a darkroom in the attic and my mother was a dressmaker who made doll clothes for my sisters. So I grew up with fashion magazines and copies of US Camera in the house, and I spent a lot of time with both. But it wasn’t really fashion that interested me; it was the atmosphere of glamour and vivaciousness that the photographers conjured up around the model and the clothes. I was interested in Penn, Avedon, Horst, Blumenfeld, Beaton, and Hoyningen-Huene, not in Chanel or Givenchy.
Do you care at all about the clothes?
Not really. Although I notice if they’re especially outrageous or ornamental, the clothes don’t much interest me—just the photograph. But the show’s co-curator, Carol Squiers, can’t ignore an outfit she thinks is ridiculous or hideous, and in several cases rejected a photo for that reason.
The year ahead for the fashion industry may look somewhat bleak, but that’s all the more reason to be excited about the International Center of Photography’s “Year of Fashion,” a 12-month-long look at style shooters. The year begins on January 16 with three simultaneous exhibitions: a collection of vintage prints from Vogue and Vanity Fair‘s chief lensman Edward Steichen; a 70-image look at non-fashion photographers (Walker Evans, Tina Barney, Robert Mapplethorpe) whose images are nonetheless quite stylish; and another that focuses on the modern fashion photograph, culled from glossies that range from Vogue to Purple Fashion. (The latter two are curated by photography critic and writer Vince Aletti.) There’s a whole lesson in fashion history right there in the first few months of the year. Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, the Condé Nast Years, 1923-1937; This Is Not A Fashion Photograph; and Weird Beauty: Fashion Photography Now will all be on view from January 16 through May 3, 2009.