Most remembered for his portraits of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, Phil Stern’s subjects ranged from soldiers on the warfront to starlets of Hollywood. The year of the Dean’s premature death, Stern photographed the actor peeking out of his sweater, perhaps suggesting Dean’s enigmatic persona. Harper’s Bazaar’s November 2015 cover, which evokes Stern’s 1955 portrait, featured the partially concealed face of Lena Dunham photographed by Nathaniel Goldberg.
German photographer Erwin Blumenfeld’s Dada background is evident in his collage-like images and photographic manipulations. Shadows were often used to Blumenfeld’s advantage as illustrated in his c. 1945 image of an unknown model whose presence is sliced through the vertical shades cast upon her. Norwegian-born photographer Sølve Sundsbø would employ a similar lighting method in photographing Martha Hunt for Lui Magazine’s Winter 2013/14 issue.
“Otherworldly” best describes the aesthetic of Norwegian-born photographer Sølve Sundsbø. A regular contributor to many contemporary fashion publications, Sundsbø garnered much attention for his visual contribution to the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty catalogue. In 2008, Sundsbø photographed Danish model Freja Beha Erichsen dressed in solid-colored gowns bubbling and billowing about her for the March Issue of Harper’s Bazaar; a photograph from the series would later make the cover of Bazaar‘s Greatest Hits book, published in 2011. In 2015, Dutch photographer duo Inez and Vinoodh shot model Natalie Westling similarly blanketed in a wind-swept crimson gown for W‘s September issue.
Under the moniker of Horst P. Horst, German born Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann would photograph the beau monde and Parisian café society of the interwar years. The year Horst would meet Gabrielle Chanel, he took the most memorable and well-known photograph of the fashion designer’s life; an image that came to typify the elegance and enigmatic nature of the designer. Flouting the composition of traditional portraits, Chanel avoided a direct gaze with the camera, much like she did with inquiries on her childhood and upbringing. Although taken years earlier in 1937, the portrait was first published in the February 15, 1954 issue of Vogue. Karl Lagerfeld would photograph Kendall Jenner in the same vein for Vogue‘s September 2015 issue.
Transgressive German photographer Helmut Newton, established a prolific body of work in his signature voyeuristic style that changed the landscape of 20th-century fashion photography. In 1985, the photographer would capture Elizabeth Taylor’s self-professed love affair with jewelry as she bathed in a Los Angeles pool accessorized with an emerald Bulgari parure set and a pet parrot. For Vanity Fair’s November 2014 cover, Patrick Demarchelier would look to Newton in photographing covergirl Jennifer Lawrence similarly bejeweled in the water. Demarchelier’s spread would also include a recreation of Avedon’s famed serpentine portrait of Nastassja Kinski.
Often looking to the surreal, Melvin Sokolsky would play with proportion, perspective and pre-photoshop trickery in his fashion photography. Known for his series of bubble girls hovering about Paris, Sokolsky drew inspiration from Hieronymus Bosch’s fantastical painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights which featured a vignette of a couple encased in a glass bubble. In celebration of Ben Stiller’s sartorial satire Zoolander, Annie Leibovitz looked to Sokolsky’s work when photographing the comedian in Vogue‘s “Funny Face” for the October 2001 issue.
In 1956, Cecil Beaton costumed the debut Broadway production of My Fair Lady, which would earn the prolific photographer and costumer designer a Tony for Best Costume Design. Seven years later, Beaton was celebrated once more for his Eliza Doolittle costumes, this time worn by Audrey Hepburn in the film adaptation of the production. Beaton would win an Academy Award for Best Art Direction and Costume Design for the beloved musical. For the Aussie’s first visit to the Melbourne Derby in November of 2012, Nicole Kidman would channel Doolittle’s monochromatic Ascot ensemble in a dress by L’Wren Scott and hat by Stephen Jones.
A “stay” was the word of choice for the understructure later referred to as a corset in the 19th-century. Today, the corset conjures up notions of tight-laced, wasp-waisted hourglass figures, however, the stay of the 18th-century was intended to lift the breasts and straighten the back rather than nip in the waist. The chemise served as a barrier between the wearer and the stay, which was never worn directly against the skin. Making a nod to the stay-over-the-chemise method of underdressing, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino would send what would resemble a woman in her underwear to the 18th-century eye, down the runway for their Spring 2015 Couture collection.
As one of the three founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, John Everett Millais, would create some of the most well-known imagery of the Pre-Raphaelite movement which looked to Quattrocento or 15th-century Italian art. Shakespeare often served as inspiration to the Pre-Raphaelites as seen in Millais’ 1851-52 painting Ophelia which portrays the tragic suicide of Ophelia in Hamlet. For Vogue‘s December issue in 2011, Steven Meisel took inspiration from the 19th-century movement, casting actress Saoirse Ronan as a Pre-Raphaelite “stunner.”
Paul Poiret’s 1913 costumes for Le Minaret were followed soon after with similar versions available for his avant-garde patrons looking to shock in Orientalist ensembles. Poiret’s translation of harem-style dressing for the Parisian set resulted in a stiffened, oversized tunic paired atop his columnar hobble skirts. The “lampshade” silhouette became a signature design for Poiret both on and off-stage. For Valentino’s 2011 Spring Couture show, Pier Paolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri explored concepts of lightness and buoyancy; a look from the collection mimicking Poiret’s dual-hemmed silhouette.