Edward Steichen: In High Fashion
Actress Mary Heberden, 1935.
The illustrious career of Edward Steichen crossed so many genres of photography but some of my favorite of his works are his fashion images.Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, The Conde Nast Years 1923 – 1937 currently on exhibit at the International Center of Photography through May 3, 2009 features the finest examples of his fashion and celebrity portraiture made for Vogue and Vanity Fair. Much of the exhibition is drawn from the Steichen Archive at Condé Nast, which contains more than two thousand original vintage prints. A staggering collection.
Model Margaret Horn wearing Jay-Thorpe, 1935.
Model Marion Morehouse and unidentified model wearing dresses by Vionnet, 1930.
No other fashion photographer could rival Steichen for the range he covered: Chanel, Lanvin, Lelong, Alix, Gres, Piguet, Pacquin, Schiaparelli, and a host of other couturiers and couturieres saw their creations depicted creatively and convincingly by Steichen on the pages of Vogue.
Actress Joan Crawford in Schiaparelli, 1932
An architect of American Modernism and a Pictorialist, Steichen exhibited his fashion images alongside his art photographs. Steichen’s crisp, detailed, high-key style revolutionized fashion photography, and his influence is felt in the field to this day—Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Bruce Weber are among his stylistic successors.
Model Marion Morehouse in a bouffant dress and actress Helen Lyons in a long sleeve dress by Kargère; masks by the illustrator W.T. Benda, 1926.
Evening shoes by Vida Moore, 1927.
The 1920s and 1930s represent the high point in Edward Steichen’s photographic career, and the work he did for Condé Nast’s influential magazines will stand forever among the most striking creations of twentieth-century photography. Personally speaking, the photograph of one of the leading men of the day, Gary Cooper, takes my breath away.
Actor Gary Cooper, 1930.
Self-Portrait of Steichen with Photographic Paraphernalia, New York, 1929.