Friday, August 28, 2009

Image of the Day

Helmut Newton, Le Smoking, 1975
(Rue Aubriot, Paris)

As we move inexorably towards autumn, Helmut Newton's iconic image of Yves Saint Laurent's equally iconic le smoking is a seductive reminder of the attractions of a darker season.

From Alicia Drake's endlessly fascinating book The Beautiful Fall: Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent, and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris:
By the early 1970s, fashion photographers were the new visual heroes. Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin were producing powerful and arresting images at French Vogue, each exploring their own highly personal obsessions under the patronage of fashion photography. Newton was transfixed by sex, power, and a subversive tension to his narrative compositions . . . .

Newton's vision of woman coincided almost exactly with that of Yves Saint Laurent. "I like to photograph a certain kind of woman that seems to have a certain availability, a woman that is probably gonna cost a lot of money to have but that makes it even better," said the late Helmut Newton. "Yves made a woman look just like that. A lot of his clothes, le smoking for instance, are exactly the way I wished my ideal woman was dressed. It is the glorification of the sixteenth-arrondissement bourgeoise woman with too much money, too much free time on her hands, and up to all kinds of tricks."

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