Last Thursday evening I stepped outside of the fashion box, passing up the latest episode of Project Runway for the Edward Steichen In High Fashion exhibition at the Museum of Art in Ft Lauderdale. I didn't feel like making it work, I didn't want to be in or out... I was feeling kinda arty.
The name may not ring a bell at first, but the images certainly will. Edward Steichen (1879-1973) was one of the most celebrated American photographers of the 20th century, a true leader and innovator in the history of fine art photography. A man after my own heart, Steichen shot for the Condé Nast magazines Vogue and Vanity Fair from the years 1923-1938, which is the high time period I had the chance to explore.
Regarded as the best known and highest paid photographer in the world during the Condé Nast years, Steichen revolutionized the way people viewed fashion. If there is one thing the man knew how to do it was how to show off clothes, at times going to extraordinary lengths to do so - as shown in a captivating film installation that captured Steichen smoking a stogie while creating an angelic floating dress effect.
Known as the master of portraiture, he photographed a fine list of A-list actresses along the likes of Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Fay Wray and Joan Crawford, while also working with a long list of couture designers from Coco Chanel to Lanvin, Worth, Poiret, Lelong, Augustabernard and Elsa Schiaparelli (aka Chanel's biggest rival).
I loved taking a walk down fashion memory lane, taking in everything from the twenties style cloche hats to the swimdress swimsuits that covered it all.
Magazine whore that I am, it was no surprise that my favorite part of the exhibition was seeing the old vintage Vogue and Vanity Fair magazines displayed under glass. For thirty-five cents an issue, these fashion rags of yesteryear contained both style and substance, without the excess of adverts, perfume samples and advice for the lovelorn. I wish I could have turned the pages, to see what Vogue had to say to the women who obsessed over style, decades before I was even born... but the security guards had their eyes on me, and their walkie talkies on.
If you want a dose of high fashion, you still have time to be Steichenized, the exhibit runs through April 11th.