The art of fashion photography and the production of cinema often go hand in hand, blurring the lines between genres. It’s also a common trait to see appropriation between the two. Whether it be a reoccurring motif, similar use of lighting or camera angle, both categories influence and rely heavily upon one another. A very recent example of this is 3.1 Phillip Lim’s 2014 spring ad campaign.The black and white images depict a ultra modern, almost surreal narrative in which the chic female lead wonders the deserted, oceanic environment. Besides the similar aesthetics between the campaign images and such iconic images as actress Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita (1960), the fashion photos themselves were taken at the same time as shooting photographer Vincent Van De Wijngarrd’s fashion film. Is there truly a difference between a fashion photograph and a fashion film still? One opinion on the matter is that of French theorist Rolande Barthes who claims that the fashion photograph “forms a specific language which no doubt has its own lexicon and syntax,” meaning that the image and every one of it’s components speaks in its own mode of communicating which sets it apart from other types of photographs and/or film. (i) This does not mean to say the fashion photography doesn’t draw influence from the communication skills of film.
Because film itself has become such a popular language since the turn of the century, it’s no wonder that fashion photography has sought out to mimic the charm and profitability of the cinema. Thus, we see the use of such quintessential images recycled time and time again. (ii) 3.1 Phillip Lim’s most recent ads are just another example of this, not only because of their recency, but because the company itself has only been established since 2007 and could do naught but draw influence from past iconography. Fusing both Hollywood glamour and modern street wear, 3.1 Phillip Lim seeks to mirror the prestige of the old school while simultaneously threading in the contemporary to make clothing that speaks of urban elegance.
By looking to the past, fashion photographers and cinematographers alike reinvent the work of their predecessors to create the new and contemporary which will also one day be reinvented.
(i) Berry, J 2014, ‘Fashion Photography: From Heroin Chic to Narrative Glamour’, retrieved from Griffith University, Queensland College of Art, Learning@Griffith website: <https://bblearn.griffith.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-1010411-dt-content-rid-2625164_1/courses/2432QCA_3145_SB/Course%20Content/Week%204%20Contemporary%20Fashion%20
(ii) Kismaric, S, & Respini, E 2008, ‘Fashioning Fiction in Photography Since 1990′, Fashion As Photograph: Viewing and Reviewing Images of Fashion, pp.29-45, JSTOR, viewed 15 August 2014,