FEBRUARY 8TH – MARCH 4TH, 2020
Throughout history, photography has served as a medium that documented and preserved a wide variety of disciplines. Photography recorded our lives, political events, cultural events, and society’s endeavors to discover our planet and beyond. Often, a photographer’s goals were factual and straightforward picture taking, intended to create images that inform our personal and collective memory. However, with the dynamic evolution of 20th and 21st-century fashion and the birth of magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Women’s Wear Daily, Glamour, and Elle (among others), photographers were encouraged to be creative, inventive, and push the artistic components of their work. The striking photographs in Inventive Fashion were chosen because of their bold spirit and imaginative nature, displaying the photographers’ desire to challenge traditional ideas of beauty. Due to their numerous experimental, creative methods these photographers and their work helped advance both the medium of photography and the presentation of fashion.
Innovative photographer Melvin Sokolsky used daring and unique approaches in his fashion shoots that ultimately expanded the creative limitations of the genre. In the 1960s, Sokolsky used his original vision to create two astounding series of photographs that have become iconic images in the history of fashion photography. Sokolsky’s Bubble and Fly series depicted a model floating within a bubble through the streets of Paris and New York as well as appearing to “fly” inside of restaurants and above the rooftops of Paris. In his series, Sokolsky defies gravity by displaying the model, Simone D’Aillencourt, airborne within the bubble, becoming an embodiment of grace and beauty, untouchable in her world, mesmerizing her observers as well as the viewer. Sokolsky’s photographs created poetic illusions in an era predating photoshop, which remains remarkable more than half a century later.
Moving fashion locations from the static studio environment to the outside world, British photographer Jim Lee established a reputation for thinking beyond fashion’s commercial aesthetic to emphasize compelling “mise en scenes,” earning him the nickname as the “original wild child of photography.” Just as he defied conventionality in his upbringing, leaving home at the age of 17 to be a cowboy in the outback, drawn to the world of adventure and travel, Lee’s photography echoes this same free spirit. Jim Lee’s captivating and asymmetrical compositions created many controversial photographs that pushed the boundaries of commercial fashion photography. By embracing the use of color and producing puzzling relationships between the individuals in the frame, Lee’s style led to a novel approach for shooting fashion in the 1970s. Working in coordination with later Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, Lee’s photography presented risqué situations, unusual personal interactions, and urban and human dramas that hinted at a mysterious underlining story, rare for fashion photography at its time. With arousing imagery, unexpected moments, and unpredictable drama, Jim Lee created memorable fashion photographs containing fresh, contemporary energy so characteristic of Lee’s work from the 1970s forward to the present.
Refusing to stay within any simple categorization, Albert Watson’s multi-directional photographic approach has captured some of the most recognizable characters in popular culture, creating iconic portraits that blend art, fashion, and commercial photography with an unmistakable aesthetic. Born in Scotland, Watson moved to the U.S and later established a career as a photographer first in Los Angeles and then in New York, with a lasting and potent vision. Watson’s abundant creativity generated a diverse and prolific body of work, producing photographs for advertisement campaigns, portraits of the most influential people of the time, and countless high-profile fashion magazine cover and spreads. Albert Watson is now considered one of the seminal and most inventive photographers in the world of fashion photography, named one of the 20 most influential photographers of all time by Photo District News. Watson’s versatility, personal creativity, and artistry, which gives his subjects a captivating mystique, has been the result of his continuing innovation. Whoever he photographed and whatever he shows, Watson is surehanded and produces photographs of transformative beauty and power.
In Inventive Fashion, fashion photography connects on a variety of levels with their intended audience. Compelling fashion photographs have visual surprises, enhances the adventurous and creative collective spirit of the viewer, and transports them – if only for an instant – from their everyday moments to a world imagined. The Inventive Fashion exhibition invites viewers to take a visual journey to travel through time and space and gaze voyeuristically at the lives of others – all inspired by the fashion and culture of the day.