Did you know that fashion photography all started because of a dare?
Millions of fashionistas all over the world probably don't know this fact. Many of them probably don't care. Truth is, they should.
I always find it amazing that people who long to be in the fashion industry (fashion writers, models, fashion designers, etc.) have absolutely no desire to research the industry they are in love with. They don't know the history. They don't know the foundation.
This past weekend, Kerrie and I were fortunate enough to learn about the history of fashion photography. Our city's art museum recently held an exhibit featuring the most well-known works of Edward Steichen, the father of fashion photography.
Besides being a photographer, Steichen (born in 1879) was also a painter and art gallery and museum curator.
As an early teenager, the American photographer vowed to dedicate his life to art.
By the time he reached his 20s, his photos were already being featured in journals and galleries.
In 1911, his world (and ours), changed forever. Steichen was dared by a friend, Lucien Vogel, the publisher of Jardin des Modes and La Gazette du Bon Ton, to promote fashion as a fine art by the use of photography. The young artist took photos of gowns designed by couturier Paul Poiret. The photos were then published in the April 1911 issue of the magazine Art et Décoration. It is considered the first ever modern fashion photography shoot.
(first fashion photo)
It was also the start of a beautiful career. Steichen became the photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair from 1923–1938, and concurrently worked for many advertising agencies including J. Walter Thompson.
During these years Steichen was regarded as the best known and highest paid photographer in the world.
He took iconic portraits of famous actors, actresses, painters, athletes, playwrights, poets, dancers, journalists, singers, writers, and politicians. His high fashion photos displayed an elegance and glamour never seen before.
His work was so popular, that many famous people longed to be "steichenized." It was a symbol of success.
This Vogue photograph displays two gowns by Madeleine Vionnet. Marion Morehouse, in black, was one of Steichen's favorite models.
Elaborate staging was all part of the game.
I could easily imagine this scene from 1926 in a Vogue editorial today.
Actress Joan Crawford in a dress by Schiaparelli, 1932.
Gary Cooper shows off men's fashion of the time.
Evening shoes by Vida Moore, 1927.
His iconic photo of Greta Garbo.
So, I encourage you all to learn more about Edward Steichen.