Photographers who Captured Glamour

You don’t usually see supermodels in Edinburgh’s City Art Centre but if you look closely at the photographs in their current exhibition Coming into Fashion you’ll find the faces of a young Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford and Kate Moss.  However this exhibition isn’t about the models in the photographs, nor is it about the fashion designers; in this show the spotlight is on the work of the photographers at Condé Nast’s fashion magazines over the past century.

When Condé Nast bought Vogue in 1909 they wanted to create a style for the modern woman and to do this they brought together the best creative talent in writing, illustration and photography.  Photography was their way into the hearts of women across the world.

Miles Aldridge, Vogue Italia, September 2002 © Miles Aldridge
Miles Aldridge, Vogue Italia, September 2002 © Miles Aldridge
Constantin Joffé, American Vogue, September 1945 © 1945 Condé Nast
Constantin Joffé, American Vogue, September 1945 © 1945 Condé Nast

The exhibition, organised by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis/Paris/Lausanne in collaboration with the City Art Centre, was curated by Nathalie Herschdorfer who was given unprecedented access to the Condé Nast archives in New York, Paris, London and Milan.

Norman Parkinson, Glamour, October 1949 © Norman Parkinson Limited. Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive
Norman Parkinson, Glamour, October 1949 © Norman Parkinson Limited. Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive

The 160 images she selected take visitors on a journey across the decades through the imagination of over 80 photographers including early works by people who are now world famous for their unique eye on the world including Cecil Beaton, Erwin Blumenfeld, Norman Parkinson, Helmut Newton, David Bailey, Guy Bourdin, Corinne Day and Mario Testino.

Among the most beautiful and evocative photographs are those of the forties, fifties and sixties which have a warmth and glamour that contrasts with the portrayal of women in later decades.  In a world where technology now allows us to take hundreds of photographs, edit and print them in minutes,  it is important to remember the technical skill and vision these shots would have taken.

The exhibition is accompanied by a book – Coming into Fashion : A Century of Photography at Condé Nast – which looks at the early work by such luminaries as Horst P Horst, Erwin Blumenfeld, David Bailey, Guy Bourdin, Corinne Day, Deborah Turbeville and Sølve Sundsbø as it appeared in the pages of the Condé Nast magazines.  Published in five languages in collaboration with Thames & Hudson, London and Paris; Contrasto, Roma; and Prestel, New York and Munich, 2012. Hardcover and softcover, 296 pages, with 208 illustrations.

Alongside this exhibition is Dressed to Kill: Fashion, Costume and Dress in Scottish Art which complements the photography by showing different types of clothing through the people in paintings by Scottish artists taken from the City Art Centre’s collection.

These range from working clothes and uniforms to elaborate fashionable dress and is enjoyable not just for the fashion but also for the chance see work by so many of Scotland’s most famous artists including Allan Ramsay, Henry Raeburn, William McTaggart, Joseph Crawhall, J D Fergusson, F C B Cadell, Stanley Cursiter, John Bellany and Adrian Wiszniewski.

Review by Tina Rose

See: Coming into Fashion A Century of Photography at Condé Nast
Until 8 September 2013
City Art Centre, 2 Market Street, Edinburgh EH1 1DE
Open Mon to Sat 10am – 5pm, Sun 12 – 5pm  Until 8 Sept venue open until 7pm every day
Cost: £5; Concessions £3.50; £2.50 for children aged 5 to 15 inclusive; £11 for a family ticket for two adults and two children or one adult and three children.
See: Dressed to Kill: Fashion, Costume and Dress in Scottish Art
Until 29 September 2013
City Art Centre, 2 Market Street, Edinburgh EH1 1DE
Open Mon to Sat 10am – 5pm, Sun 12 – 5pm  Until 8 Sept venue open until 7pm every day
Free Spotlight Tours: These 30 minute tours focus on key works in the exhibition. Saturday, Tuesday and Friday at 3pm. Meet in the gallery reception area.

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