The Constructed Moment

This blog discusses the way in which we design, make, select, evaluate and publish fashion and advertisement photographies as a sub-genre. This is a place of reflection. We have no unveiled truths, yet we are seeking answers.

viernes, 27 de junio de 2014

About fashion stylists

Texto en español, aqui.

“Essentially what you’re doing is collaborating with the photographer to create an image that reflects the fashion you’re trying to capture and also hold a mirror  up to the zeitgeist at the moment.”
— Hamish Bowles 

The manifestation of the specialization of team members has historically been the result of the process of consolidating fashion photography and its professionalization. They assume the different tasks involved in the construction of a fashion image in the terms that this blog formulates in its name—The Constructed Moment.

Some authors, in their records, tell about how during the first fashion sessions, the models would do their own make up and prepare their garments. From this we can only assume that the first members of a shooting, back then, were the photographer and the model.

I still haven’t been able to properly document how the new pieces of this set up came to happen (and I’m grateful for any information any of you can give me). Asking other people about the topic for this entry [1], they tell me that hairdressers used to have recognition above make-up artists—and most likely, a little bit of more participation during the early stages of a shooting— as for the make-up artists, I believe that images in color had to generate the pressing need of incorporating a professional; someone responsible of making the skins of the models give a perfect registry on magazines.

As I understand, stylists also join shootings as the ones responsible for garments in a simultaneous way to make up artists. The acknowledgement of this task was consolidated by Vogue (led by Anna Wintour) when they published credits over the images on the magazine. In fact, magazines like i-D and Dazed advanced this process in the 80s and consolidated it in the 90s by naming the stylist as a part of the team that made the photographic content of the magazine a reality.

Nowadays, we can say that a minimal photo shooting has a photographer, a model, a make-up artists and or a hairdresser and last, yet more frequent and essential, a stylist. 

I say a ‘minimal photo shooting’ because it’s almost impossible to currently find a photo shooting that doesn’t have a stylist. In terms of fashion, the stylist is like the conductor of an orchestra. He or she is the one that interprets the sheet music in front of them, this understood in terms of fashion. Another way to confirm the importance of this role is by observing the prominence of some people in the industry: Polly Mellen, Grace Coddington, Giovanna Battaglia, Nicola Formichetti, Emmanuelle Alt, Anna Dello Russo and Edward Enninful, just to mention a few. These stylists share the same level of recognition as many of the most prestigious photographers, magazine’s editors, designers in the fashion world.

A good stylist is capable of giving a new vision to garments.
It is a common issue in fashion that brands, beyond the imaginary scenarios they produce, question the new meaning their products will elicit once under the editorial approach of photography. This contrast comes from the fear to misunderstand the message the brand wants to deliver; I personally think that there is no reason for the mistrust. If we are strategic for a moment, both brand and magazine will bond when there is a common target: they share the same audience; hence, they have to share some characteristics. When the target public of a magazine is not the same as the brand’s then, it could also be understood as an opportunity to reach a new audience. Another important fact is that an editorial leaves little room to be interpreted as a language for the published brands, since it is already a clear concept announced on the header.

A brand needs to know that a loan of garments means recognition by giving credit to the products. This can be convenient at times, and yet sometimes, it could be wiser not to do so, which led me to reflect about giving proper credit in magazines. A couple of months ago, while I was reading a magazine, and being impressed by some style I saw, I looked for the credits to know who had created it and was surprised by realizing there wasn’t any. The name of the make-up artist was there, but not the stylist’s.

To the magazines which are not yet giving proper credit to stylists, I’m telling you, it’s time to acknowledge this part of evolution in the industry. It is fundamental to do it, since this person, in the case of the best, is interpreting fashion and is capable of reading the aesthetic sensitivity of the ultimate consumer, who is the at the end of the day, the spectator of the constructed images.

[1] in conversations with William Cruz and Laura Echavarria


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