MARTIN PARR’S STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL WORLD OF FASHION

 

It’s hard to believe, but Fashion Faux Parr is Martin Parr’s first book of photography. It feels that all of Parr’s images are, if not about fashion, about style. His iconic images are about people in bathing suits, in giant hats on racetracks, in cocktail wear, in beachwear, eating hotdogs with blinding jewelry, men in sandals with socks, people whose skin looks like parchment for having been exposed too much to the sun, women in a modest hair salon having their hair done, holding giant designer bags. And all in glaring colors. Martin Parr ignores the meaning of faux pas. For him, faux-pas is life itself. And Parr’s life is always in super Technicolor. He is also a very democratic photographer. He loves shooting overweight working class people on a beach as well as famished socialites rushing for the petits fours drowning in cream on a tray.

 

 

But Parr is also a real fashion photographer. Or, at least, a photographer the fashion world loves. He has worked for brands like Gucci and Jacquemus and magazines like Vogue, Elle, W, and many others. When accepting these assignments, Parr doesn’t change his style. He will find the most unglamorous locations - a laundromat, a food stand, a gas station, a diner - to shoot sunglasses on cactuses, jewelry on the hands of old women playing cards or petting their cat, a bag on a teddy bear. He seems to have a particular affection for pastries. He can photograph a purse stuck in a blue cake, a golden jewel on a strawberry tarte, a chain necklace on a millefeuille. Parr could be a food photographer.

 

 

There’s something whimsical about food and pastry that greatly appeals to him. Parr is an iconoclast. The most expensive accessory can be photographed amongst brooms or worn as a hat above a colorful headgear, an expensive sneaker will be surrounded by a toy figure of Osama Bin Laden pursued by a tank driven by George W. Bush; a stiletto shoe might be hanging from an IV drip stand ! It takes a lot of self control not to fall out laughing while looking at Parr’s images. But it works. His images draw us irresistibly  into their kitsch strangeness. The eye can spend hours deciphering every detail of a photograph. Parr has become a world icon. Anyone who sees an image by him will instantly recognize it. There are very few artists who have achieved this level of recognition. Who would have thought Parr would be in a select club with Richard Avedon or Irving Penn ? Life is beautiful ! Jean-Sébastien Stehli

 

 

Fashion Faux Parr. Martin Parr. Phaidon. 49,95€
April 03, 2024 — Sonam Khetan