Fashion photography is ambiguous: because it is first and foremost intended to market or advertise clothing; because it represents not only the work of the photographer but also that of the designers, art directors, and even makeup artists; and because the photos fulfill specific commissions for magazines or fashion labels.
Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz have contributed to elevating the genre to the rank of art, making worthy of being exhibited in museums and galleries. Nowadays, fashion photography appears in two forms: first, as the so-called fashion editorial, or a series of photos published in magazines and on social networks to showcase designer outfits, and, secondly, as advertising, directly associated with a brand name.
Three young fashion photographers, chroniclers of haute couture and streetwear, both seasoned and emerging, bring us the latest trends via their Instagram accounts.
Victor Demarchelier, the smartest
Whether he is capturing Natalia Vodianova for Dior or his wife, the French top model Héloïse Guérin, for Vogue, Victor Demarchelier pays special attention to light. A subject in its own right, it lends his pictures a sleek elegance and often an allure of timelessness.
Born in the United States, Demarchelier studied art and economics at Vassar College in New York before taking up photography alongside his father, Patrick Demarchelier, a leading fashion photographer. Having inherited his father’s talent and acquired his know-how, Victor broke out into the fashion world in 2006. Not only do we encounter his editorials in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, or Antidote, but his skills are also in demand at major brands like Dior, D&G, and Calvin Klein…
Victor Demarchelier has recently created an iconic cover for Numéro, featuring Erika Linder posing in majestic chiaroscuro. He commented on this collaboration, saying: “I really like the quality of these images: a bit hard around the edges, a bit rough… I like this type of portrait that shows the real character.”
His work is also a paean to his love for his family: “Inspiration is all around you; you just need to keep your eyes peeled. Right now, my family is my biggest source of inspiration. I love family photos!” His family photos exude old-fashioned charm, which serves as inspiration to labels and women’s magazines and breathes fresh life into la dolce vita.
Lou Escobar, the most cinematic
Whoever her sponsors are and whatever the context or the country in which she shoots, Lou Escobar’s photos seem to illustrate one long, electric road trip. Here we run into colorful characters caught between bites into a hot dog at a dinner party, during a sleepless night in a motel, or on an empty road stretching for miles on end.
“I’m generally influenced by cinema,” admits the young photographer, leaving us free to liken her work to the worlds of David Lynch or Quentin Tarantino. Self-taught, she first tried her hand at street photography while traveling across the United States, Mexico, and Cuba.
In 2015, Citadium entrusted her with its winter photo campaign. She went on to work for Diesel and Ray Ban, which in turn led to collaborations with fashion magazines, including the sleek Schön magazine! Does she like editorials the best? “I don’t have any favorites, every collaboration was unique and enriching,” comments Lou Escobar. Nor does she consider these commissions as strictly fashion shoots, but rather as a form of storytelling.
Always following her gut and searching for new opportunities, Lou Escobar is currently preparing “a very, very short docu-drama shot in a gypsy camp in Arles.”
Valentin Fabre, the most futurist
Valentin Fabre is one of those emerging photographers you are unlikely to forget. It might be due to his Y2K aesthetic (referring to the year 2000 and the computer bug) or to his iridescent images, populated by characters sporting pearly metallic outfits, with an occasional touch of directional blur.
His various collaborations, with Adidas, Harper’s Bazaar, Hyperbeast, as well as with many young creators, show a strong sense of composition and play with colors, inspired by the likes of David LaChappelle. “The painter David Hockney has inspired me enormously with his choice of bright colors and incredible compositions,” notes the young photographer, before adding Luc Besson and Tim Burton to the list.
Valentin Fabre reminds us that fashion photography is nothing but an inter-professional collaboration: between the photographer, stylist, makeup artist, hairdresser, set designer…. “There is always a lot of sharing and exchange going on. Everybody lends a hand, and this allows us to create the image together,” he eagerly explains, before describing one remarkable collaboration. “I recently had the opportunity to work with Romain Fontaine, a young graphic artist who does 3D imaging. He brought something beautiful to my pictures: a touch of magic and a futuristic angle that I really appreciate.”
Valentin Fabre has recently captured the spotlight with his first campaign for Veugue, an Instagram account that parodies fashion and luxury, associating brand-name logos with stills from pop culture (cinema, sitcoms, music videos…). His work will be on view until October 31 at the Galerie Le Trapèze in Paris, where he is exhibiting two fashion series on the theme of aliens: “A theme I’m especially fond of!”
By Charlotte Jean
Charlotte Jean is a journalist and writer. A former contributor to the Beaux Arts Magazine and founder of Darwin Nutrition, she is a graduate of the École du Louvre and specializes in contemporary art.