Fashion Photography Advertising in High End Women's Magazines Term Paper

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Fashion Photography Advertising in High- End Women's Magazines


Fashion Photography in the Form of Advertising, for High-End Women's Magazines

Table of Illustrations

Literature survey: Origins / history / theory of fashion photography advertising in high-end magazines

Recent Developments of Fashion Photography Advertising

Case Studies .10

Appendix of Illustrations.

Table of Illustrations

Helmut Newton, "Rue Aubriot," Vogue France. Paris 1975

Helmut Newton, Vogue France, 1979, Paris, Yves Saint Laurent Collection

Helmut Newton, "Self-Portrait with June and Models"

Diego Velazquez, Las meninas (1656)

Helmut Newton, Cover of Vogue France, September 1986

: Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait (1964)

: Steven Meisel, Calvin Klein "Euphoria" Fragrance campaign, 2010

: Steven Meisel, "Madonna hitchhiking (from Sex)," 1993

: Steven Meisel, "Make Love not War" cover of Vogue Italia, 2009

Typology: Fashion Photography in the Form of Advertising, for High-End Women's Magazines


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Despite a growing respect for the fashion industry, many in our global society have been determined in their viewpoint that photography of such fashion is nothing more than blatant advertising and that there is no artistic skill or qualities involved. However, our society must come to recognize the power fashion photography has to influence and impact us. In other words, by being able to make social and cultural critiques, fashion photography has the ability to make a long-lasting impression on a person, even if that person does not consider himself/herself "into" the fashion industry. This paper proposes to refute this negative opinion of fashion photography, and establish the true, artistic and beautiful nature of the skilled photography required to make fashion advertisements.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Fashion Photography Advertising in High End Women's Magazines Assignment

By performing a critical analysis of design typology with in the fashion industry, this paper explores the fluid nature of fashion photography and its ability to function as both mere advertising, but also its ability to be a true art form. Through artistic and culturally critical means, fashion photography has developed the ability to artistically make statements on both the past, present, and perhaps future of our global society's values and principles. The unique origins, key characteristics and recent developments in the world of fashion advertising will be examined so as to prove the thesis of such photography qualifying as art.

This paper also explores two important case studies in the world of fashion photography, Helmut Newton and Steven Meisel, and will present examples of their innovative photography to further prove that fashion photography is a respectable art form. Photographs by Newton and Meisel, such as "Self-Portrait with June and Models" by Newton and various examples from the covers of Vogue Italia by Meisel, will be analyzed as fine art in an attempt to sway critics from believing these photographers only create insignificant advertising.


Many people tend to compartmentalize different types of photography. In creating these sub-sections and sub-genre within this single art form, fashion photography has come to be viewed as perhaps being a "lesser" or not as respectable form of art. Some critics might even go as far to say that fashion photography is not art at all. However, it is precisely this disparity in opinions that needs to be explored in order to determine whether or not fashion photography is closer to art than just mere advertising. This paper addresses the typology of photography in the form of advertising, published in high-end women's fashion magazines.

It is important to note that over the last two decades, the significance of fashion has grown immensely across the world. Fashion has become a highly conspicuous part of visual and artistic culture. Individual designers, such as Louis Vuitton, Gianni Versace, and Ralph Lauren, have become business and cultural superstars. Fashion has become much more than superficial exterior styling concerned with surface appearance. More importantly, fashion has become an industry that integrates advancement in technology, aesthetics, and social values into day-to-day wearable items. While fashion has always played a role in the cultures of the world, the art of fashion design has increasingly seeped into popular culture. Accordingly, based on the cultural importance of fashion and fashion design, it follows that the art which captures fashion (most commonly photography), should be valued as art as well.

To begin with, the origins and key characteristics of fashion photography will be explored. Subsequently, recent developments and trends in the art of fashion photography will also be examined to draw the conclusion that fashion photography is more than just advertising.

This paper will then explore the work of fashion photographers Helmut Newton and Steven Meisel. Newton, a German photographer having worked in Singapore, Australia, and through Europe and the United Kingdom, and contributed largely to French Vogue and Elle magazines, was quite well-known for his nude studies of women. Although sometimes criticized as being "pornographic," Newton's nude photography eventually added elements of depth and intimacy that helped develop fashion advertising into a true art form.

Meisel, an iconic American photographer, has used his art of fashion photography to shape fashion trends worldwide. He has worked on major advertising campaigns for Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, and Versace, among others. Also notable is that Meisel's art has appeared on every cover and lead editorial story of every issue of Vogue Italia since 1988. Meisel's photographs have been developed into art as opposed to just fashion advertising by his ability to create controversial layouts involving fashion and politics juxtaposed together.

In addition to these two significant case studies of Newton and Meisel, this paper will also explore some of the important criticisms of fashion photography in order to better understand opposing views that fashion is not art. Some of these criticisms include that since fashion photography is influenced and motivated for economic reasons, it cannot possibly have artistic merit. Another criticism is that in fashion photography, it is too common for male photographers to exploit their female subjects.

Furthermore, another important aspect of fashion photography that needs to be explored is the commentary created by photographers by the intertextuality of fashion advertisements. In other words, the underlying meaning of such fashion photography has come to be what it is due to viewers' relations with past forms of art and advertising.

This paper proposes, then, that fashion photography is more then just a representation of a garment. Fashion photography holds a message and a meaning beyond the clothing; it is an artistic expression by the photographer, and can represent deeper meaning. One of the most significant deeper meanings within fashion photography is that it represents more complex and serious issues than the promotion of clothing, jewelry, and shoes. Issues concerning the objectification of sex, gender, race and class, as well as the politics of consumption and pleasure tend to emerge. Accordingly, this paper concludes that such fashion photography functions as an art form through not only its artistic style and efforts put forth by photographers, but also through the social value fashion photography has stemming from its underlying social commentary of our world.

I. Literature survey: Origins / history / theory of fashion photography advertising in high-end magazines

Fashion photography is the use of photography to open up a dialogue among viewers about the most recent trends in clothing. Scholars note that fashion photography "acts as a representation of popular taste and is created to serve a commercial industry, yet it has also served as an avenue for change, pushing the boundaries of acceptability with innovations in style, technique and the portrayal of fashion" (Grossman 1).

The art of fashion photography has its origins in the advent of the art of photography itself. With new technological inventions in photography, such as the daguerreotype in the 1840s and the collodion plate in the 1850s, there came to be a gradual re-invention of the communication of fashion throughout the Western world (Grossman 1). That is, these new improvements to photography allowed portraiture works to become available to people of varying income levels. However, despite the common use of photography to capture family moments or other important aspects of life, certain photography studios grew to be associated and well-known for producing high quality photographic portraits of fashionable aristocratic and artistic clientele (Grossman 1).

However, these high quality portraits were seldom reproduced in quantity and they could not be cheaply reproduced for publication. As a consequence, wood-engraved fashion illustrations grew to be prevalent, even after the invention of halftone printing in 1890, which allowed a photograph to be printed on the same page as type in large quantities (Grossman 1). It is also important to note that frequently, photographs were used as the foundation for fashion illustrations. These photographs were retouched dramatically to look like drawings, with the use of details bringing the works into more clarity and giving the models idealized features (Grossman 1). Subsequently, in 1901, the first fashion photographs appeared in the fashion magazine Les Modes in Paris (Grossman 1).

As the photography technology continued to develop, fashion photography grew to be used as forms of advertising. One of the pioneering uses of fashion photography in this manner was in the early 20th century by Parisian haute couture establishments… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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