Fashion in the Mirror at the Photographers' Gallery presents 60 fashion photographs in which photographers, make-up artists, technical equipment and studio sets feature alongside the models. Revealing how the images are constructed, the focus is on fashion photography as a process rather than the final air-brushed shot.
The exhibition ranges from magazine covers and spreads to original prints, reprints and photographs on adhesive stickers. The earliest works from the 1950s, when photographers first expanded the picture frame to include the set. In the 1960s photographers became as famous as their muses: in one image, Norman Parkinson takes a shot in front of mirrors (1962); in another, Bert Stern shoots David Bailey as he lies on the floor to take a photograph of model Veruschka (1965).
One of the most striking shots is "Green Bath" (1972) by Harri Peccinotti, which features a naked model in a bath of green water. Peccinotti says of the shoot: "So I climbed up there above the bathtub and I saw my reflection on the water, right on the model's pubis. I asked the girl to lie very still, waited for the image to settle, and shot. For a self portrait, I find it quite flattering."
Some of the pictures play homage to each other. William Klein shot Karl Lagerfeld surrounded by people carrying placards with his photograph (2007) thirty years after Melvin Sokolsky shot Twiggy surrounded by her own image (1967). Others parody celebrity lifestyles: Steven Meisel's "Super Mods Enter Rehab" shows women getting out of cars without not only underwear but anything else on their bottom half.
The single Mario Testino portrait in the exhibition is playful but serious. It shows model Snejana Onopka, in 2007, dressed as Anna Wintour, with trademark glasses and bob. Testino shot the story for Vogue Paris, "to pay homage to Anna's iconic status and impeccable style". The image recognises how fashion is now dominated by editors-in-chief as much as photographers.
The Photographers' Gallery is also showing 'Them' by London based photographer, Danny Treacy. For an ongoing collection of self portraits Treacy sews together clothes from skips, wastelands and even car crashes to make a new "skin" which he wears in haunting self portraits.
The seven photographs, printed so that the figures are larger than life-size, dominate the room. The pictures have a real intimacy as the viewer is forced to think about the origin of each piece of clothing. Treacy says: "A vital part of the process is in the act of locating the clothing. There is for me something furtively erotic or desperately lonely in much of the clothing that I find. This is the starting point."
As part of its "In Focus" project, bringing the themes of the two exhibitions together, the gallery invites visitors to add their own photographs to images of items that have been chosen or rejected away by Hans Aarsman. With 'Photography Against Consumerism' the photography writer from Amsterdam asks us to question the materialism of modern life.
Fashion in the Mirror, Danny Treacy: Them and Photography Against Consumerism are on at the Photographers' Gallery, 5 & 8 Great Newport Street, London, WC2H 7HY until September 14.