In 1988, one Spanish photographer transformed a commission to shoot French designer Philippe Model’s accessories line into a quirky exploration of her own artistry.
BERLIN — A week ago, Vice magazine gambled on a potentially-sexist-but-potentially-thought-provoking fashion spread — and lost. “Last Words” featured fictionalized portraits of female authors looking unaccountably sexy moments before or after their suicides: a slender Sylvia Plath poised before an open oven, an immaculately made-up Virginia Wolf wading in a picturesque river. Predictably enough, the spread provoked vitriolic backlash in the world of feminist journalism.
Let’s start at the beginning. Vice magazine recently published a fashion spread from its new Women in Fiction issue. Titled “Last Words,” it features seven models posed as female writers who committed suicide (or in one case, attempted to) at the moment of their deaths.
As dreams are the fragments of personal memory colliding into our sleep, it makes sense that “dreamscapes” imagined by a prominent fashion photographer would be rich with sleek surrealism and carefully staged beauty.
You may have seen him on a bike somewhere in Manhattan, a flashing presence in a blue coat. Maybe he was at a gala or a fundraiser, if you happen to frequent those kinds of events. But where it’s easiest to find Bill Cunningham these days is in the pages of the New York Times, with his weekly fashion photo column On the Street picking up on the prevailing trends of that week in New York City dress. On the street, the 83-year old fashion photographer and aesthetic documentarian is tough to spot, much less pin down. It is Bill Cunningham’s own elusiveness that makes Richard Press’s new documentary Bill Cunningham New York so fascinating: the 92 minute movie is defined by its attempt to get to know a character and an artist whose work and life are completely inseparable.