By Christina Ptukhina
In the late 19th century, people began seeking ways to combine photography and fashion. By 1856, Adolphe Braun created an album of portraits of Virginia Oldoni, a noblewoman of the court of Napoleon III, in her beautiful official clothing. However, fashion magazines like Harper’s Bazaar (founded in 1867) and Vogue (1892), preferred sketches to photographs as the readers were quite conservative.
|VirginiaOldoni by Adolphe Braun, 1856|
|Vintage Harper's Bazaar Cover 1876|
The new era brought a paradigm. Early 20th century saw a change in the attitude toward fashion photography. Art et Decoration magazine was the first to publish a fashion photoshoot by Edward Steichen, featuring revolutionary designs by Paul Poiret. And suddenly it was fashionable among wealthy young ladies, like Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, to model for fashion photographers.
|Paul Poiret's First Modern Fashion Photography Shoot|
Nudity, female in particular, also became a popular motif in the beginning of 20th century. Many erotic retro-photographs have been preserved through the decades. Nudity was not as widely used in relation to fashion as it is now. It indicates the growing interest for female sexuality, and the fact that a female body, provocation and seduction have always been a significant part of fashion culture.
|“Le Violon d’Ingres” by Man Ray, 1924|
Fashion photography is sometimes criticized for not being “real”, for making us chase non-existing perfection. However, fashion photography has never meant to be “real”. Our chase is for the extraordinary and that is what fashion photography strives to deliver.