Coco Capitan, Boy in Socks, 2017   

Richard Avedon had to have been dead for 4 years before he had an exhibition at the Jeu de Paume, the prestigious photography institution in Paris. He was not the only one stuck in a purgatory: wildly popular in the “real world”, seen by millions, but considered “commercial” in the art world, fashion photographers were confined to the fringes of the official art world. They were “The Impure”. It’s taken years for great fashion photographers who were/are truly artists to finally be recognized. 

Ellen von Unwerth, Rich Bitch, 2004

The Saatchi gallery in London is celebrating the new status of fashion photography with a massive exhibition called Beyond Fashion. Over 100 images by 48 photographers cover the entire diversity of this art form. The show is divided into 4 sections: Allure, which celebrates timeless beauty; Fantasy, which pays tribute to the creativity and inventiveness of photographers working in fashion; Realism, showcasing artists working mostly in the street; and Surrealism, which features the work of a generation for whom fashion is about transformation and magic. 

The biggest names in fashion photography are here: Nick Knight, Peter Lindbergh, Vivian Sassen, Paolo Roversi, Miles Aldrige, Juergen Teller, Jean-Baptise Mondino, Mario Testino, Ellen von Unwerth and many others as well as the young generation of  photographers like Coco Capitan or Olivia Bee.  

Solve Sundsbo, Elena in Gaultier, Numéro #91

There is also a section dedicated to moving images to highlight the importance of film in today’s fashion imagery. “The emergence of a broader visual language has enabled a blurring of boundaries between editorial work, advertising and artistic expression within fashion photography,” explains the show’s curator, Nathalie Herschdorfer. “Nowadays, it is no longer regarded as a frivolous medium; it is elevated to the status of an art form, capturing the sustained attention of museums and galleries, auction houses and publishers alike. It is the art world's rising star.” A magnificent tribute to an art form that influences millions of people every day around the world and, often, enchants, shocks, inspires.

- Jean-Sébastien Stehli 

Miles Aldrich, Homework #3, 2008

Beyond Fashion. Saatchi Gallery. Until September 8. 


                Koto Bolofo, Black Beauty, 2008


Jean Sebastien Stehli