A fashion journey through photography

With a wave of renewed interest giving the local fashion scene a new impetus, it’s all about looking at style from a variety of perspectives. On an exhibition level, the fashion revival kicked off last year with the sensational «Ptychoseis – Folds and Pleats,» at the Benaki Museum’s new Pireos St wing. It now continues with «Fashion and Photography,» an exhibition currently at the Athens Concert Hall – in the hope that showcasing fashion is not just a passing trend. Part of the «Megaron Plus» series, the show is under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture. Through more than 200 works by local and foreign artists, the show invites viewers to take a journey into fashion photography from its early stages all the way to the high levels of commercialization and to today’s new creativity. The show’s curator, Platon Rivellis, however, notes that the exhibition should not be seen solely through a «historical prism of continuous development, but as a timeless entity of creativity that expresses aesthetic quality and visual interest.» For Rivellis, «Fashion and Photography» is neither a retrospective nor a recording of fads, but a series of solo shows by photographers who have left their mark. Founding fathers If you’re looking for eternal style, look no further than the stunning images of George Hoyningen-Huene. A founding father of fashion photography, Hoyningen-Huene was born an aristocrat in St Petersburg in 1900. Leaving Russia after the rise of the Bolsheviks, he settled in the United States and built a solid career at Conde Nast and American Vogue before moving to rival Harper’s Bazaar. At the exhibition, the architectural structure and modernity is captivating: Models dressed in Lanvin, beachwear by Elsa Schiaparelli and a swimsuit by Jean Patou. Born at an undisclosed location in 1868, Adolphe de Meyer was legendary for creating stories about himself and his past. The fairy-tale feeling seems to have been absorbed in his work, for de Meyer’s lens captures the romance of the 1920s through a play of lights and shadows. ‘Kinetic Man’ Known as the «Kinetic Man,» Hungarian-born Martin Munkacsi (1896-1963) inspired photography legends such as Henri Cartier-Bresson – portraits here include those of show-business greats Tallulah Bankhead (Harper’s Bazaar, 1945) and Marion Davies in white ruffles in California in 1934. Another member of this first generation is US-born Saul Leiter (1923-), whose fashion images are often captured on the street. Born in the USA in 1937, Deborah Turbeville has worked with leading fashion designers and is well known for giving her editorials a cinematic, directed approach. At the show, Jean Muir poses for US Vogue with models in 1975 and the lens captures Diana Vreeland’s shoes (US Vogue, 1980). The images of prominent Paolo Roversi (born in Italy in 1947) offer a feather-light approach with an underlining sense of narrative – at the Athens Concert Hall the photographer’s works stem from the «Libretto» album, a Comme des Garcons campaign from 1996. For the Sicilian-born Ferdinando Scianna (1943-) the invariably black-and-white images of models Marpessa and Monica Bellucci (prior to silver-screen fame) offer a sense of realism, while the world takes on a somewhat tormented viewpoint in the small photos of Francesca Woodman, the American artist who committed suicide in 1981 at the age of 23. Celebrated Sarah Moon was born in Britain in 1939 and has lived in France since 1968. Using fashion photography as a means of contrasting creativity from her ad campaigns, her photos take on artistic qualities – such as the movement and volume she captures in the designs of Yohji Yamamoto (1996) and Issey Miyake (1992). Pillar Fashion photography pillar Frank Horvat has always adhered to the personal. Born in Italy in 1928, he is known for mixing fashion with his photojournalism experience. At the Athens Concert Hall, the photographer’s images are tinged with humor: model Simone d’Aillencourt poses with designer Sir Hardy Amies for British Vogue in 1961; model Deborah Dixon shares a moment with Federico Fellini for Harper’s Bazaar (1962); an Yves Saint Laurent couture suit is juxtaposed against an Alain Resnais photograph in a 1978 French Vogue shoot. For the Athens exhibition, Horvat offered the Greek public a little bit more than his works by giving a master class and participating in a round-table discussion. Elli Souyioultzoglou-Seraidari was born in Asia Minor in 1899; popularly known as Nelly’s, she was famous for her neoclassical images. Here Nelly’s work captures the fashion of the times with a collection of photos from the Benaki Museum Photographic Archive. A regular fixture in the Greek photographic milieu, Takis Diamantopoulos (1949-) has extensive experience in the fashion world. Defined by perpetual motion, his work is invariably playful – images such as those of Christina Hadjopoulou in Dozia (1972) and Mara Desypri posing for Klik magazine in 1987 have participated in the establishment of local fashion photography aesthetics. Starting in the 1980s, Tassos Vrettos (1957-) managed to build a solid career in the media, ranging from album covers and fashion magazines. The photographer’s work is often defined by unrealistic elements. Born in Piraeus in 1963, Costas Coutayar graduated from London’s Royal College of Art before embarking on a solid career defined by «controlled professionalism» and a personal point of view. Inspired by fashion photography’s past, Coutayar is well known for his always-a-step-ahead editorials. A graduate of Central St Martin’s, Yiannis Bournias (1971-) belongs to a new generation of rising photographers. Known for creating a real atmosphere for his shoots, the current show presents a selection of untitled works. Australia-born Bill Georgoussis (1965) nowadays commutes between Athens and London and likes to keep clear of fashion stereotypes – editorials for publications such as Dazed and Confused attest to that. With an air of film stills in his work, Georgoussis is also the artistic director of Sophia Kokosalaki’s catwalk presentations. Stratis and Beva are quite a novelty – the happy photographer couple is known for co-signing works. Stratis Kastrisianakis was born in Athens in 1972 and Beva Sewell in Nevada in 1983. Together they travel between New York and Paris executing advertising campaigns, such as that for Spanish design duo Victorio y Lucchino, which is on display. Guessing game Though there’s a lot to take in, your fashion knowledge is unlikely to be enriched at this show, for very few images denote the designers behind the garments. Leave it to the photographers to show you what fashion is to them: a reflection, albeit a beautiful one, of life itself. Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali & Vas. Sofias, tel 210.728.2333. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, to May 7. Besides the images, a rare display of ‘live’ garments A show within a show, «Fashion: A Short Retrospective» is a small display of garments stemming from the permanent collection of the Musee Galliera in Paris, showcasing different moments in time. At the Athens Concert Hall, visitors come across a pieds-de-poule gown with its etole by the masterful Christian Dior, circa 1948; the popular 1960s A-line silhouette as interpreted by Andre Courreges and Guy Laroche; the elegance of Hubert de Givenchy in a warm pink gown once worn by his muse Audrey Hepburn in 1960; Pierre Cardin’s symmetry in a red gown with beaded and sequined embroidery; the use of metal in a 1980 coat by Paco Rabanne; a three-piece «sculpted» garment by Claude Montana for the summer of 1989; the exuberance of Christian Lacroix in a velvet and double-bow dress from 1989; Jean-Charles de Castelbajac’s playful «Tagliatelle» coat from the early ’90s, as well as Jean-Paul Gaultier’s signature «Mariniere» and «Guepierre» dresses, from 1993 and 1991 respectively. The work of Greek-born, London-based Sophia Kokosalaki is also showcased here, offering the local public an opportunity to come into contact with the little-known work of this high-profile designer, much respected within the global fashion industry. Kokosalaki presents her delicate-yet-powerful vision: a white pleated dress with metal embroidery; a backless black dress; an intricate waistcoat and a glamorous take on eveningwear, with a silver dress with drapes in the back from her most recent collection for fall-winter 2005-2006. Besides the «live» garments, a video wall offers a selection of the designer’s latest runway collections – chairs would be welcome here for proper – and longer – viewing.

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