fashion

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Yves Saint Laurent

June 28, 2014

Behind every great man, as we learn in Jalil Lespert’s Yves Saint Laurent, there’s a great man. More than any designer of the 20th century, Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008) revolutionised the world of fashion, but his genius for haute couture may never have been fully realised without the business acumen of Pierre Bergé. This conventional, … More


Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion

February 1, 2014

When Edward Steichen (1879-1973) accepted the job as Chief Photographer for Condé Nast publications in 1923 it was taken for granted he would work under a pseudonym. Already known as both a famous art photographer and a painter, his employer realised Steichen would probably not wish to be associated with the purely commercial work he … More


Newcastle: After Five, or Five Minutes to Midnight?

October 26, 2013

It’s distressing that every time I’ve written about Newcastle this year the exhibition has had to share column space with some new crisis. The only progress is that these crises keep getting worse, with the latest developments being almost unbelievable. At a meeting on 24 September, the Council voted to adopt a controversial restructure proposed … More


Richard Avedon: People

September 7, 2013

“Youth never moves me,” said Richard Avedon (1923-2004). “I seldom see anything very beautiful in a young face.” This may sound strange, coming from one of the most celebrated fashion photographers of the twentieth century, but it pinpoints that quality which sets Avedon apart. He had a ‘hard’ definition of beauty, as opposed to the … More


Hollywood Costume

July 27, 2013

In Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, a turning point arrives through a change of costume. James Stewart, playing the damaged cop, Scottie, sees a girl who closely resembles the dead woman who haunts his thoughts. That woman, Madeleine, is on Scottie’s conscience and in his heart. In Judy, a shop girl from Kansas, he recognises Madeleine’s double … More


Skyfall & Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel

November 24, 2012

In his James Bond Dossier of 1965, Kingsley Amis wrote: “Not much mind is needed to notice that Bond’s adventures have been getting more fantastic all the time and some critics have actually done it.” After fifty years and some 23 features, it would be an understatement to say Bond’s cinematic adventures are getting more fantastic … More


Bill Cunningham New York

November 12, 2011

There are many occasions in this film when one begins to wonder: “Is Bill Cunningham actually, clinically, mad?” Never in the course of a human life-time has so much energy and enthusiasm been expended on a subject that many would regard as trivial, superficial or blatantly commercial – the fashion industry. After watching this documentary … More


Valentino, Retrospective: Past/Present/Future

September 18, 2010

Philosophers should make a comprehensive study of  Valentino Garavani, because if he isn’t a genuinely happy man this proves human happiness is an unobtainable ideal. The great couturier retired in 2008 at the peak of his fame, adored by the world’s most glamorous and influential people. His life-style, as revealed in Matt Tyrnauer’s documentary, Valentino: … More


Hats and James Fardoulys

April 24, 2010

Lewis Carroll cannot take complete credit for the expression: “as mad as a hatter”. Even before he created the most famous tea party in world literature, hatters had quite a reputation. The mercury compounds used in 19th century hat making induced a range of symptoms including trembling fits and mood swings. It is unlikely that … More


Photography as Art

December 31, 2001

“Photography is the art of comparison,” says the garrulous, omniscient narrator in Murray Bail’s novel, Eucalyptus, who sounds suspiciously like the author. “Anyone can take a photograph. The ‘art’ has already been composed by the subject itself, even when it’s a brick wall – really, the word ‘art’ here is an amazing pretension, since it … More


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