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February 1st, 2013

Project on African American and Latino Ballroom Subculture Wins CDS/Honickman First Book Prize

© Gerard H. Gaskin

© Gerard H. Gaskin

Gerard H. Gaskin’s photography series on the African American and Latino house and ballroom subculture of urban, gay pageants has received the Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize.

The prize carries a $3,000 grant, and an opportunity to publish a book of the work and exhibit it online and at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. The images also go into the permanent collection at Duke’s Archive of Documentary Arts.

Judged by curator, historian and photographer Deborah Willis, the 2013 prize is the sixth biennial award given by Duke Center For Documentary Studies and the Honickman Foundation of Philadelphia.

According to Gaskin’ statement, “The balls are a celebration of black and Latino urban gay life and were born in Harlem out of a need for black and Latino gays to have a safe space to express themselves. Balls are constructed like beauty and talent pageants. The participants work to redefine and critique gender and sexual identity through an extravagant fashion masquerade.”

Though the balls originated in Harlem, Gaskin noted, the culture has grown and spread. He made his images in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. “My images try to show a personal and intimate beauty, pride, dignity, courage, and grace that have been painfully challenged by mainstream society,” he says.

“Gaskin’s work looks at the notion of transformation as he turns his lens on what it means to be ‘desired,’ and at the same time, what it feels like to be alienated,” Willis said in a statement. “His photographs are as exciting to look at as they are a means for imagining the lived experiences of the communities he has documented.”

The prize is open to American and Canadian photographers of any age who have never published a book-length work. For more about the prize visit: firstbookprizephoto.com.

December 12th, 2012

Obituary: Photographer Chayo Mata, 50

© Chayo Mata. A self portrait.

© Chayo Mata. A self portrait.

Beauty and fashion photographer Chayo Mata, whose clients included All You, In Style, Lucky, Natori and Neiman Marcus, died November 27 in New York. She was 50. The cause of death was breast cancer, according to her longtime companion and business partner, Mauricio Soto.

Born in San Antonio, Texas, Mata first learned photography from her father, whom she described as a “weekend photographer” of weddings and events. She studied at East Texas State University and, after working in Dallas, she moved to New York City where she assisted fashion photographer Steven Meisel. After she launched her own career, she shot both photos and film for editorial and advertising clients.

In an interview with Photoserve earlier this year, photo editor Mercedes Vizcaino of All You described Mata as “my go-to photographer for shooting interiors, usually in studios, around New York City.” Vizcaino said, “Not only does she produce great imagery, she brings a wealth of ideas on how to execute our productions to get the best results.”

First diagnosed with cancer in 2008, she devoted time and talent to helping groups that support breast cancer survivors, including Cook for Your Life and the Pink Daisy Project, in their fundraising. She frequently featured resources for breast cancer survivors on the blog she started, persephonesbeautyblog.com.

May 4th, 2012

Vogue, Harper’s Magazine and The New York Times Magazine Win National Magazine Awards for Photography

From Richard Ross's "Juvenile Injustice" photo essay in the October 2011 issue of Harper's Magazine. © Richard Ross

Vogue won the prize for best overall use of photography at the 2012 National Magazine Awards, held in New York City last night. Given out by the American Society of Magazine Editors, the awards honor excellence in magazine editorial. Vogue beat out four other finalists in the category of Photography: GQ, Interview, National Geographic and Virginia Quarterly Review. The fashion title’s photography department is lead by photography director Ivan Shaw.

In the News and Documentary Photography category, Harper’s Magazine won for “Juvenile Injustice,” a photo essay on juvenile detainees by photographer Richard Ross. He worked with art director Stacey D. Clarkson and assistant art director Sam Finn Cate-Gumpert on the assignment. In the same category, Harper’s Magazine was also nominated for “Uncertain Exodus,” photographed by Ed Ou. The other finalists were National Geographic for “Too Young to Wed,” photographed by Stephanie Sinclair; The New York Times Magazine for “From Zero to 104,” photographed by Damon Winter; and Time for “Birds of Hope,” photographed by James Nachtwey.

The New York Times Magazine won the Feature Photography award for “Vamps, Crooks & Killers.” Alex Prager shot actors dressed as iconic villains for the photo essay and accompanying video. She worked with director of photography Kathy Ryan, deputy photo editor Joanna Milter, design director Arem Duplessis and editor Hugo Lindgren on the assignment. The other nominees in the category were National Geographic for “Taming the Wild,” photographed by Vincent J. Musi; Time for “Portraits of Resilience,” photographed by Marco Grob; Vogue for “Lady Be Good,” photographed by Steven Klein; and W for “Planet Tilda,” photographed by Tim Walker.

For a complete list of winners, visit magazine.org.

Related Article:

ESPN, W, New York Times Magazine Win 2011 National Magazine Awards for Photography

April 19th, 2012

That New Book Smell

Images © Koto Bolofo. Left: Perfumer Geza Schoen. Right: Paper Passion.

When bibliophiles celebrate print they often talk about the weight or feel of paper, about color, binding, typeface, design… but scent?

Leave it to print purists and publishers Gerhard Steidl and Karl Lagerfeld to pay attention to the often-overlooked, olfactory component of the print experience. It was Lagerfeld who first pointed out the scent of print to Steidl, which led to a collaboration between Steidl, Wallpaper* magazine and master perfumer Geza Schoen to create Paper Passion perfume—”For Booklovers.”

The scent debuted this week at at the Wallpaper* Handmade exhibition in Milan, which runs through April 22 at the headquarters of men’s clothing designer Brioni, and it will be available to the public on May 30.

The perfume comes hidden inside the pages of a Steidl-published book, designed by Lagerfeld, which includes various odes to the printed page and its characteristic scent.

As Lagerfeld has said, “The smell of a freshly printed book is the best smell in the world.” Backlit touch-screens may be the future, but the future doesn’t smell nearly as nice.

April 13th, 2012

Lawsuit Raises Questions About Francesco Scavullo’s Archives and Foundation

A lawsuit filed by a disgruntled business partner of late fashion and celebrity photographer Francesco Scavullo has cast a spotlight on a charitable foundation that he established prior to his death in 2004, raising questions about the condition of Scavullo’s archive and the foundation’s fulfillment of its obligations under Scavullo’s will. Court papers and IRS filings suggest the foundation–which was supposed to keep Scavullo’s legacy alive–has gone dormant.

Philadelphia-based Motion Picture Group, a marketing group established before Scavullo’s death to help the photographer promote and license his archives, has sued the New York-based Francesco Scavullo Foundation for breach of oral contract in federal court in Philadelphia. MPG is seeking more than $150,000 in compensation for marketing efforts that it says it undertook on behalf of the foundation under informal agreements prior to an acrimonious split earlier this year. (more…)

March 20th, 2012

Israel Bans Use of Underweight Models

Israel has passed a law that bans the use of “underweight” models in advertising, and mandates that ads that are retouched to make models appear thinner must include a disclaimer.

According to reports, a fashion photographer and model agent named Adi Barkan has helped promote the bill, which was introduced by Knesset member Rachel Adato.

“I look (back) 15 to 20 years ago, we shot models (sized) 38. Today it’s 24,” Barkan said. “This is the difference between thin and too thin. This is the difference between death and life.”

The law requires that models appearing at photo shoots for ads that will appear in the Israeli market must show a medical report stating that they are not malnourished by World Health Organization standards. The standard used by the WHO is “body mass index,” or BMI.

Under the new law, models must present a bill of health that is no more than three months old. Foreign publications sold in Israel will not be required to abide by the new law.

Opposition figures, including Adi Neumman, one of Israel’s top models, argue that the use of BMI is arbitrary and doesn’t allow for different body types. Neumman said she wouldn’t pass the requirement even though she eats well, exercises and is healthy.

“Force actual tests. Make girls go to a doctor. Get a system to follow girls who are found to be puking,” she said, according to an AP report.

March 19th, 2012

John Midgley’s Altered Image: Reasonable Caution, or Outrageous Censorship?

©John Midgley

Have the morality police chilled artistic expression, or does this image by John Midgley–which appears on an APA promo for a talk by the fashion and celebrity photographer–violate the standards of public decency without the alteration?

Midgley is scheduled to give a talk called “Memory: Journey’s of Fiction and Fantasy” at the Apple Store at 7 p.m. today. The talk is part of the Image Maker Lecture Series sponsored by APA New York, and Midgley provided the image, undoctored, so APA could promote his talk via e-mail blasts.

According to Midgley, APA New York regional director Jocelyn Zucker told him the image wasn’t acceptable because of the boy’s nudity. “We might shock someone with a naked little boy’s penis, or do some other greater damage,” says Midgley, apologizing for his cynicism. He adds, “The puritanism drives me a little crazy sometimes.”

Zucker says, “As per our agreement with Apple, all lectures and the images presented must be ‘family friendly’ – no nudity or swearing, etc. This is not a concern on APA’s behalf; we would enjoy being able to present more controversial content, however, the Apple lectures are not the proper venue. John made the decision to use that image and censor it, rather than select a different image for the promo.”

Midgley ended up not only covering the boy’s penis, but defacing his own image.

“It wasn’t really meant to be a form of protest, it was ‘Well, if I censor the offending bits could that work?’” he explains. “So I did it quickly and in hindsight, badly. Next thing I know it’s up there [in an APA promotion.] And in a way I think subconsciously I was so pissed that it is a form of protest. It [the objection to nudity] is ridiculous and so is the censorship I imposed.”

Information about Midgley’s talk this evening is posted here (without the image) on APA’s web site.

March 1st, 2012

Photo Editor Explains How Vintage Photos Lead the New York Times Onto Tumblr

Earlier this week The New York Times made its first foray onto Tumblr with The Lively Morgue, which showcases vintage photographs from the newspaper’s print archive, which is known as “the morgue” for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, according to the Times.

“[Launching a Tumblr blog] made sense for a lot of reasons,” says deputy photo editor Meaghan Looram, who was one of several Times staffers who worked on the project. “Obviously Tumblr is a super visual platform and on top of that, from what I understand, vintage photography is really popular on Tumblr.”

In addition to showing the scans of vintage photographic prints, The Lively Morgue’s custom design also allows viewers to inspect the backs of the prints, where they can see editors’ markings, original captions and other information about the images, and the way the newsroom trafficked and filed them.

“For someone that’s not interested in that level of detail they can appreciate the fronts of the images,” Looram notes, “but I think [showing the backs of the prints] gives the project a really nice level of sophistication and added value. And for people that are interested in photo archiving or photo history or the history of the paper, I think it’s just a really interesting level of detail.”

Through its first few days, the Times‘ Tumblr has featured photographs from the 1930s, 50s, 60s and 70s, ranging in subject matter from sports to fashion to crime. As of Wednesday night, the blog already had roughly 10,000 followers, Looram says. Several of the images had hundreds of notes and reblogs.

Looram notes there is some concern over the amount of control the Times is relinquishing, because Tumblr allows for rapid sharing and dissemination of content. To encourage people who like the images they see on Tumblr to buy prints, The Lively Morgue features a link to a Times store where prints can be ordered. “In a lot of cases these are prints that you can buy through our store, so we’re hoping that people will do that,” Looram explains. “But I think that that’s something that we have to be concerned about even with images on our Web site.”

Though The Lively Morgue links to a print store, Looram says the project was “primarily motivated by an interest in editorially getting these images seen, and also finding an appropriate foray for us into Tumblr.”

The project, which was based on a series of posts picture editor Darcy Eveleigh created on the Times‘ photojournalism blog, Lens, originated with Heena Koh, a member of the Times’ digital design team, and Alexis Mainland, the social media editor. Looram says everyone working on it is doing it “in addition to their own duties” because they are excited about the platform and the opportunity to share the archive.

The social media success of the Lens blog, and of the Times‘ photography in general, also generated energy, Looram says. “I think we’re very encouraged by the popularity of the Lens blog and the amount of sharing in social networks about our photography and photography that we’re highlighting, so that’s definitely encouraging to us and probably was a good indicator for the level of interest we would see in a project like The Lively Morgue.”

February 24th, 2012

Penelope Tree, Muse to Avedon, Models Again

© Mario Sorrenti for Barney's

Penelope Tree, who first modeled for Richard Avedon in 1966, is back, appearing in a new fashion campaign for Barney’s shot by Mario Sorrenti. This week’s installment of Who’s Shooting What has details on the campaign, the creative director behind it, and the other fashion personalities being featured. PDN Pulse would just add that at age 62, Tree looks great.

Vogue editor Diana Vreeland spotted Tree at Truman Capote’s famous Black and White ball in 1966, and asked her to model for Richard Avedon and later for David Bailey, who soon after ditched wife Catherine Deneuve and became Tree’s companion for eight years.

(Wow, there were a lot of Sixties icons packed into that sentence.)

Tree’s look ushered in a new, waifish look in models. Bailey told PDN in a Legends Online interview, “I think she changed a generation of young American girls.” Funny, now we look at photos of Tree from the Sixties or today, and she looks quite healthy compared to the anorexic models we’re now used to seeing. Tree has other assets besides her unusual looks. A student of Buddhism, she has been a patron of a charity which supports women’s groups in Cambodia. She was also, as Bailey told PDN, “Bright, bright, bright, bright.”

Related article:

Who’s Shooting What