Posturing: Photographing The Body In Fashion

  • Photography  Courtesy of exhibitor
  • Words  Abi Buller

Presented in collaboration with The Outnet, curators Shonagh Marshall and Holly Hay consider the role of the female body in contemporary fashion photography. Through a group exhibition, they propose an intimate look into the industry, attempting to challenge the norms of the fashioned body in modern image making.

Displaying works from 2010-2017, Marshall and Hay reflect on a bodily focus which is commonplace in recent fashion images. The exhibition captures an aesthetic movement, and the selected images display a common narrative of extravagance in poise and intrigue in body placement. Curated through industry focused terminology, the motive was to deconstruct the workflow of fashion production, to explore the significance behind the body in fashion photography.

Image © Brianna Capozzi

With limited curation time to fully explore the breadth of the topic, Marshall and Hay sought not to answer questions to this ambiguous, and often controversial theme, but instead to open a conversation in the field. On the back of Marshall’s role as curator for the extensive display of archival works for Hair by Sam McKnight, at Somerset House, she faced a new challenge in this topical exhibition of contemporary image makers. Embracing the freedom involved in co-curating the show, the duo initially sourced a large assortment of images from a variety of photographers and publications. Upon forming an edited image selection, it became apparent that visual similarities of the body’s structural placement existed in tandem with elements of the creative process involved in fashion shoots. The images were categorised thematically through casting, styling, location, props and art direction. The curation style offers the ability to shed new light on the creation of fashion imagery;  further exposing the behind-the-scenes processes of photographing the body in fashion, from production to final iteration.

Image © Marton Perlaki
Image © Pascal Gambarte

The conversation takes place between a diverse range of photographers, with profiled works by Brianna Capozzi, Lena C. Emery, Andrea Artemisio and Mark Peckmezian, featured among others. With commissioned editorials from publications ranging from British Vogue and The Gentlewoman to AnOther and i-D, narrative-driven images act as standpoints profiling posture and pose as familiar fashion traits. The commissioned works also seek to subvert the notion of selecting anonymous models with no relation to their garments, instead proposing the human figure as central to the image construction. Narratives are formed through ideals of human connection; presenting interlinking limbs and carefully adjoining human figures with clothing sometimes draped as secondary to the body’s position in the shoot concept. Some imagery offers a satirical stance on bodily proportions; one example is in the image ‘The Practice’ by Lena C. Emery which offers a unique representation of a nude woman folded into a yoga pose.

Image © Lena C Emery

An overall performative aesthetic is apparent in the imagery, evoking thought of the effect of both the body as a form, and the body as a structure for displaying garments. The viewer is invited to consider the placement of the body in relation to space and other figures; as well as in relation to the photographer’s creative direction. Once thought of as visual communication solely for the promotion of garments, fashion photography in its contemporary form offers new narratives for profiling the body itself as part of fashion’s striking presence. It is often apparent in this selection of work, that the body can form an extension to both the clothing and the set design featured in the photographs. This presents new areas of exploration as the viewer is challenged to reconsider the traditional roles of garments and their relationship with the body. Ultimately, the convergence of photography styles in this project offers a self-conscious look towards the industry, highlighting an aesthetic preference for attention to posture, gesture and pose.

The exhibition acts as an entry point for a three part creative project which will involve a commissioned moving image piece entitled Posturing: Filming the Body in Fashion, and a book entitled Posturing: Writing the Body in Fashion.

Posturing: Photographing the Body in Fashion is currently being exhibited at 10 Thurloe Place, until Sunday November 12.

Image © Blommers and Schumm
Image © Reto Schmid

*All images produced above were not made originally for PYLOT, therefore we cannot guarantee that they comply to our beauty retouching policies*
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