Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fashion Photography - A Blumenfeld Beauty

Nothing better illustrates the point of my previous post than these two photos, proving that while the elements of fashion, the clothes, models and photography, continue to evolve, they don't necessarily improve.

More from Fashionology. This new Lady Dior campaign featuring Marion Cotillard by Photographer Peter Lindburgh is a nod to Erwin Bumenfeld's 1939 photos of Lisa Fonssagrives on the Eiffel Tower.

Marion Cotillard atop the Eiffel Tower for Peter Lindbergh 2008
Lisa Fonssagrives atop the Eiffel Tower for Erwin Blumenfeld - 1939

Blumenfeld advertised this most
spectacularly atop the Eiffel Tower in May 1939, when he took a series of
photographs of Lisa Fonssagrives swinging from the steel girders in a summer
dress by Lucien Lelong. Yet there’s more to this famous portfolio than style.
Through a dynamic of structure and shadow, every photograph conjures a three-way
relationship between woman, gown and edifice, each ideal form amplifying the
others in shape or gesture. None is subservient, and the camera captures all as
a single fabric. Fashion photography is often deservedly dismissed as mere
illustration: A photographer uses a model and a setting to show off a dress. In
Blumenfeld’s Eiffel Tower portfolio, the photographs are wholly self-sufficient
visual statements.

Blumenfeld’s Fonssagrives is
art—as aesthetically right as a masterpiece by Stieglitz or Weston or Strand—but
neither he nor his contemporaries could see it in that light. (Evidently some of
his contemporaries didn’t quite see it as fashion either; after the Eiffel Tower
shoot, his Vogue contract wasn’t renewed, and he landed in the French and
American offices of Snow’s Harper’s Bazaar for the following five years.)
On the seventieth anniversary of Kristallnacht I find it fascinating that Blumenfeld took this photo in carefree fashion forward Paris when just across the border anti-semitism was on the rise and the Nazi's were marching into Poland.
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Couture Allure Vintage Fashion said...

That LeLong dress is simply divine! Thanks for posting this!

Belle de Ville said...

I love the geometry of the lines in the print of the dress with the lines of the Eiffel Tower.
Also, what I like is the camera angle looking down with the city below. In makes the photo much more edgy that the photo in the Lady Dior ad.

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