The Best Fashion Photography of the Last 20 Years
Photo: David LaChapelle for The Face (detail)
Fashion photography is a whirlwind fantasy designed to take you on a voyage to another place. It is an experience of pure aestheticism that reflects our deepest emotions. Evoking states of euphoric pleasure, delicious desire, and jubilant joy, it also can be seeded with a more edgy, dark undercurrents of life. All the while, it is not simply an image but an advertisement—it is designed to sell clothes through the construction of an illusion that we seek to embrace and embody in the three-dimensional world.
In celebration of this phenomenal form of art, Crave has put together a selection of the best fashion photography of the last 20 years.
More than anyone else, David LaChapelle has pushed the boundaries of the fashion photograph, using it as a space for the exploration of surrealism and Pop Art in a single breath. Each photographs he creates is a tour-de-force, creating a wonderland of candy colors, sensual figures, and playful absurdity. He has seamlessly blended the boundaries between fashion, fine art, and celebrity portraiture to create a look and a feeling wholly his own that defies copycats.
Remember the buzz when Madonna launched her book Sex back in 1992? How innocent were were before the Internet came along. The photographs in that book, which walked the line that Helmut Newton first trod, were the brainchild of the great Steven Meisel, who is always everywhere. He has “discovered” some of the greatest models in the industry, including Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Kristy Turlington, Lara Stone, Coco Rocha, and Raquel Zimmerman, always staying current with new shoots for top magazines.
Crave fave Nick Knight got his start back in 1982 with the publication of his first book, Skinhead, a phenomenal collection of black and white photographs that captured the raw, angsty vibe of London in the early ‘80s. His embrace of youth culture brought him to the attention of cutting-edge edge clients like i-D, Yohji Yamamoto, and Alexander McQueen, all of whom embraced Knight’s iconoclastic daring. In 2000, Knight showed he stayed ahead of the curve, launching SHOWStudio.com, using the internet as a vehicle for the latest in fashion photography.
Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott—best known as Mert & Marcus—are fashion’s reigning photographers, who have been creating some of the most industry’s top images since partnering in the mid-1990s. Their sensational shoots for magazines like i-D and Dazed & Confused lead the way to top tier clients including Vogue, W, Louis Vuttion, and Givenchy. What keeps them at the top is their constant evolution as artist. They cannot be pigeonholed by style or look, giving their work a timeless vibe that allows them to stay fresh, exciting, and relevant.
Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin are ubiquitous, having been a team for more than 30 years. Together, they’ve stormed the fashion world, bringing their classic style to the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Balmain, Balenciaga, and Givenchy, to name just a few, while their photographs have graced the covers of top magazines including L’Uomo Vogue, V, and Paris Vogue. Their greatest strength lies in adding another layer to an icon, paying homage to the legend while polishing it afresh, so that we get a deeper reading of the spirit that glows from within.
Miss Rosen is a journalist covering art, photography, culture, and books. Her byline has appeared in L’Uomo Vogue, Whitewall, The Undefeated, Dazed Digital, Jocks and Nerds, and L’Oeil de la Photographie. Follow her on Twitter @Miss_Rosen.