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Off the page: fashion photography as you’ve never seen before


Seductive, beautiful, surreal and realistic. These are a few words that art historian and curator Nathalie Herschdorfer have to say about Beyond Fashion, the captivating fashion photography exhibit taking place at ArtisTree from 12 January to 24 February.

At the show, over 100 fashion photographs and films by 48 celebrated photographers are on display, namely work by Nick Knight, Miles Aldridge and Juergen Teller, as well as a new generation of talent. Have you had the Beyond Fashion experience yet? This just isn’t a simple exhibition of some of the world’s most recognised images, however; it’s a conversation starter on how fashion photography is more than what it appears to be, as merely glossy images on the pages of a magazine.

“Some of the work is playful and reveals something about fashion,” says Herschdorfer of the Beyond Fashion curation. “But most comment on our world, our society and reflect our dreams.”

For the longest time, fashion photography, though highly stylised and requiring creative production, had been seen as just a commissioned, commercial product that answered the needs of clients and fueled capitalistic ideals – far from of the ideals of high art. However, with Beyond Fashion, Herschdorfer wants to change that perception. Instead, she wants focus to turn to power of fashion photography and how it can reflect on the state of the ever-changing world. That is, how photographers, stylists, editors and models, who together, put tireless effort to create art that not only responds to the cultural zeitgeist, but also influences it.

A prime example of this is illustrated through revered German photographer Peter Lindbergh’s work (he shot Anna Wintour's first cover for Vogue), of which Beyond Fashion showcases a featured selection. Lindbergh pushes the boundaries of photography through his signature monochromatic, unretouched images to promote a deeper meaning. "Look at this snapshot of [Angela Lindvall] in the street where there is a demonstration with the sign spelling out ‘PEACE’,” says Herschdorfer of the image from the “Give Peace a Chance” article published in Harper’s Bazaar. "It shows that fashion photography can instill ideas and say something about society." Another example of fashion photography's influence is in the celebrity culture that surrounds models. "Fashion photography is not just about selling clothes and featuring the work of designers," says Herschdorfer. "It's also about these beauties, fashion models, like this iconic image of Kate Moss in Times Square. It's simple and recognisable, and you come to know the name of the model like she's your friend."

Yet there’s even more to Herschdorfer’s intentions with her curation for Beyond Fashion: to put the spotlight on female talent. It's rare to see female photographers gain acclaim for their vision of the female body, a subject often dominated by the male gaze. “Things are changing today,” she says. “There is more space for female artists and diversity. I also wanted to bring to this exhibition.”

Beyond Fashion makes everything from street style snaps to an image of a woman swimming in a sea of fluorescent pythons within reach, inspiring you to contemplate fashion photography’s importance in today’s visual culture, beyond the pages, and off the billboards. The exhibition is also supplemented by a series of immersive dining events hosted by Mike Bagale, guided tours and forums that bridging art, fashion and food.

Beyond Fashion: Remarkable photography whichever way you see it.  

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