Pin It
The Female Gaze
Blow Up, 1997Photography Donna Trope

New show celebrates female fashion photographers

Featuring work by Cindy Sherman, Petra Collins, and controversial artist Vanessa Beecroft, a Vogue Italia-curated exhibition celebrates women’s perspectives

“Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at... Thus (the woman) turns herself into an object – and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.” It’s been 44 years since John Berger wrote those seminal words in his book Ways of Seeing, and 41 since film critic Laura Mulvey first put a name to what he was describing: the male gaze. So in 2016, where are we now? 

From non-conforming models to binary-resisting pop-up shops, to say that the last couple of years in fashion has seen a lot of discussion about gender is something of an understatement. The fact remains, though: for an industry dominated by women, and by pictures of them, many of the most famous photographers defining style culture have historically been men. 

Seeking to offer another perspective, a new Milan exhibition attempts to explore the idea of a female gaze in fashion photography. With work from established names including Donna Trope and Ellen von Unwerth, artists such as Vanessa Beecroft and Cindy Sherman, and younger talents like Petra Collins and Maisie Cousins, the event is part of the first ever Photo Vogue Festival, a week-long event entirely dedicated to fashion photography. Their images are a diverse representation of the female form – you can spot a crying Gisele by Liz Collins (taken from the July 1999 issue of Dazed), a striking black and white portrait by South Africa’s Zanele Muholi, and an introspective, iPhone-starring shot by Arvida Byström.

Organised by Vogue Italia, and running until the 26th, the festival also includes an exhibition of crowdsourced fashion photography, and talks by the likes of Beecroft, Paolo Roversi and gallery owner Michael Hoppen. 

The Female Gaze is part of Photo Vogue Festival, and runs until November 26 2016 at BASE Milano.