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source | vogue.com
Agents Provocateurs: A Look at Vogue's New Book The Editor's Eye
by Hamish Bowles
What makes a great fashion image? A new book, Vogue: The Editor’s Eye, celebrates the work of Vogue’s boundary-pushing fashion editors.
Throughout its 120-year history, Vogue has been creating arresting images intended to make the reader’s eye stop. These are images that evoke desire—for something as real as a dress or a lipstick, or as intangible as a whole new body language, attitude, or paradigm. Some are images of stately, introspective calm; others make the heart leap with an adrenaline charge of energy, reflecting a century of change in fashion, society, and culture.
But who are the thoughtful provocateurs who have collaborated with Vogue’s image-makers to capture the moments you see frozen on these pages? The Editor’s Eye is a tribute to eight of these remarkable women (there have also been a handful of remarkable men) who have guided, educated, and enabled photographers and illustrators to create the visuals that have propelled fashion forward. They reveal not only the evolving history of women’s self-presentation but also the extraordinary arc of their journey from the end of the nineteenth century to the beginning of the twenty-first—the roiling ocean of emancipation, liberation, and empowerment, changes reflected in the lives of the women whose work is gathered here.
Vogue’s editors have long been instrumental in defining the faces of the era. During the tenure of the sweetly imperious Edna Woolman Chase, from 1914 until her retirement in 1952, it was the moneyed society women, generally of a certain age, who were the real leaders of fashion, and great models from Marion Morehouse to Lisa Fonssagrives were styled after their likenesses. Collaborating with Irving Penn in the late forties and fifties, Babs Simpson dressed her subject (reflecting her own impeccable personal style) and then sat down to her needlework as she quietly directed the sitting. Diana Vreeland, who came to Vogue in 1962, shook things up when she made young beauties like Baby Jane Holzer, Edie Sedgwick, and Marisa Berenson the faces of the moment, turned quirky performers like Barbra Streisand and Cher into style stars, and transformed the waifish Twiggy into an American celebrity as well as a British one.
Now the focus shifted to reflect the Youthquake era. Penelope Tree was “discovered” at Truman Capote’s 1966 Black and White Ball (written up in Vogue by Gloria Steinem) and was soon whisked to Richard Avedon’s studio, where Polly Allen Mellen emphasized her gangly limbs in a too-small pantsuit; together they created a defining image of idiosyncratic sixties beauty. A decade later, Jade Hobson turned Patti Hansen into the smiling embodiment of the golden goddess next door. Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele was front and center in creating the supreme moment of the supermodel in the late eighties and nineties, working with Patrick Demarchelier, Steven Meisel, and Peter Lindbergh on pictures that made Cindy, Naomi, Linda, Christy, et al., the most famous faces of their generation.
Vogue’s current pantheon of talent continues to recalibrate our eye. Grace Coddington, who helped make stars of models like Amber Valletta, Shalom Harlow, Karen Elson, and Stella Tennant, prides herself on dressing every girl the old-fashioned way, rather than delegating this task to assistants. Phyllis Posnick, the Penn whisperer at the turn of the twenty-first century, sparked a glorious refulgence of invention and imagination in the artist’s work. The cerebral Camilla Nickerson, working with the most experimental talents of her day, presided over Kate Moss’s transformation from waif to artist’s muse to bride. And Tonne Goodman’s faultless eye and coaxing charm have played a part in redefining the image of nearly every celebrity the magazine has deemed worthy of celebration in an era when fashion is made not by elegant, socially ascendant women of a certain age but by cultural icons, from Lady Gaga to First Lady Michelle Obama.
Today Vogue productions can resemble filmmaking in scale and ambition, but it wasn’t always thus. For the fall-winter 1950 haute-couture collections, Penn made a rare trip to Paris to work with the fashion editor Bettina Ballard. The chosen studio where he installed his dappled tarpaulin backdrop was “up five exceptionally long flights of stairs, with no telephone, no water.” Ballard booked the models, attended the collections, selected the clothes from her notes (it was forbidden to photograph or sketch), and negotiated with the directrices of the fashion houses for their release (these saleswomen, on commission, invariably prioritized their customers, so clothes were available only at lunchtime or at night, which is when Penn and Ballard were shooting). The production yielded some of the most iconic fashion images of the century. “My heart was involved with every picture,” wrote Ballard, recalling her mid-century portfolios.
The dramas and the headaches and the battles are all eclipsed by the thrill of that great collaborative moment when a perfect storm of editor, photographer, model, clothes, hairstylist and makeup artist, environment, and concept come together to create an image that captures the moment, and may—who knows?—even have a life after fashion.
Excerpted from Vogue: The Editor’s Eye, compilation copyright © 2012 Condé Nast. To be published by Abrams, October 2012.
source | vogue.com
A Lens on a Legend:
In 1962, editor Babs Simpson dressed Marilyn Monroe in Christian Dior Haute Couture for Bert Stern’s famous last portraits of the actress.
Photographed by Bert Stern, Vogue, 1962
Face in the Crowd:
With a surrealistic flourish, William Klein photographed Marie-Lise Grès among a swarm of faceless onlookers in front of the Paris Opera, 1963. Klein was “very good-looking, easy to work with, but completely selfish,” editor Babs Simpson recalls.
Photographed by William Klein, Vogue, 1963
Editor Polly Allen Mellen worked with photographer Herb Ritts to capture Carré Otis (left) and Stephanie Seymour in all their tousled glory in 1989.
Photographed by Herb Ritts, Vogue, 1989.
Work of Art:
With photographer Horst P. Horst, Mellen juxtaposed Veruschka with George Segal’s Walking Man at Sidney Janis Gallery, 1966. “My motto was always: Be daring!” says Mellen.
Photographed by Horst P. Horst, Vogue, 1966
Splendor in the Grass:
Helmut Newton staged Lisa Taylor mid-seduction in 1975. Taylor was one of “the two women who most turned Helmut on,” editor Polly Allen Mellen recalls. “You had to turn Helmut on, or you wouldn’t get what you wanted.”
Photographed by Helmut Newton, Vogue, 1975
Taken in Stride:
Jade Hobson looked to Blade Runner and to Japan’s avant-garde designer Yohji Yamamoto for her 1983 shoot with Hans Feurer.
Photographed by Hans Feurer, Vogue, 1983
Walk This Way:
Photographer Steven Meisel and editor Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele showcased a six-pack of supermodels in 1994, all dressed in ultrashort sherbet-colored Chanel suits.
Photographed by Steven Meisel, Vogue, 1994
Curiouser and Curiouser:
In one of Vogue’s most ambitious shoots, photographer Annie Leibovitz and editor Grace Coddington reimagined Natalia Vodianova as Alice, with milliner Stephen Jones as the Mad Hatter, and designer Christian Lacroix as the March Hare, 2003. Says Leibovitz: Coddington is “the best fashion editor in the world.”
Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, Vogue, 2003
On the Road:
In 1992, Coddington and photographer Steven Meisel led Kristen McMenamy through the gardens at the Château de Champs.
Photographed by Steven Meisel, Vogue, 1992
At the Marrakech market in 1992, Grace Coddington and photographer Ellen von Unwerth styled Nadja Auermann as Marlene Dietrich in Morocco.
Photographed by Ellen von Unwerth, Vogue, 1992
source | vogue.com
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