Musings on the culture of keeping up appearances

All the Rage

Category: Photography

Pasadena exhibit is inspired by legendary Helmut Newton

Pasadena exhibit inspired by Helmut NewtonThe legendary photographer Helmut Newton got his start photographing fashion and ads, often in shockingly sexualized ways. (The photo here is part of a promotion for Montblanc pens.)  He became one of the mostly highly regarded photographers of his era (he died in 2004) and he was generous in sharing his skill and insights with aspiring students.

Three of those former students -- George Holz, Mark Arbeit and Just Loomis -- have mounted a traveling exhibition of work they've done inspired by what Newton taught them when he took them under his wing more than 20 years ago. "Three Boys from Pasadena: A Tribute to Helmut Newton" was curated by Newton's widow, June, and is on display at the Pasadena Art Center College of Design's Williamson Gallery through Aug. 26.

Writer Steve Appleford found out more about the exhibit for a story in Sunday's Image section. It says something about the power of art and friendship.


"Herb Ritts: L.A. Style" at Getty

Renowned photographer Lillian Bassman leaves a legacy 

--Susan Denley

Photo: In a detail from a Helmut Newton photo -- part of a promotion for Montblanc pens -- one model uses another as her personal note pad. Credit: Helmut Newton



New Exposure $50,000 fashion photography contest


Calling all undiscovered photographers -- here's your chance to gain some new exposure.

Bottega Veneta and Red Digital Cinema are looking for undiscovered fashion photographers to participate in their New Exposure photography contest. The winner will receive a $50,000 prize package that includes a RED Epic-X camera package, a one-year mentorship with Management Artists photo agency and the chance to shoot a project for Bottega Veneta. The winner's work will also be exhibited in New York City.

Some of the judging panelists include Ivan Shaw, the photography director at Vogue; Tomas Maier, creative director for Bottega Veneta; and artist Ross Bleckner.

Entries must be submitted by May 30. To enter, send a digital portfolio to


'City of Style' makes a fashionable debut

Fashion news: Britney Spears, Elsa Peretti and Louis Vuitton

Shopping: VS opens 1st Pink store; California Market Center sales

-- Jenn Harris

Photo: Do you hope to follow in the footsteps of fashion photographers like Mario Testino? Here's a contest that could give you the opportunity. Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images.

'Herb Ritts: L.A. Style' at Getty with fashion, celeb photographs

Madonna, supermodels, hard bodies, strong women and vulnerable men. It’s hard to think about the 1980s and 1990s without thinking of photographer Herb Ritts. And it's hard to think of Ritts without thinking of L.A., which is why the title of the retrospective of his work that opened Tuesday at the J. Paul Getty Museum, “Herb Ritts: L.A. Style,” is fitting.

Despite (or perhaps because) he was largely self-taught, and worked in Los Angeles, Ritts, who died of AIDS complications in 2002, was able to develop a distinctive style that bridged the gap between art and commerce.

“He incorporated the L.A. landscape, the sea and surf into his work,” says curator Paul Martineau, pointing to a photograph Ritts took for Versace in 1990, of a model and a diaphanous gown braving the desert wind. His favorite time of day to shoot was 3 to 6 p.m., when he was able to capture that magic L.A. light and create the sense of warmth that radiates from every frame.

Martineau worked with the Herb Ritts Foundation on the exhibition, editing 1,200 boxes of photographs down to 87, some never before published. Featured alongside examples of his magazine covers and commercial videos, they highlight Ritts’ legacy in fashion, portraiture and nudes, and show how he culled inspiration from old masters such as Botticelli, Umberto Boccioni, and photographers including Philippe Halsman and Edward Weston, many of whom were represented in the books found in his personal library after his death.

Continue reading »

MOCA’s 'The Total Look' exhibit opens to a stylish crowd

Cameron Silver, left, John Demsey, Jeffrey Deitch and Peggy Moffitt at the opening of "The Total Look'

This last weekend may have been buzzing with all things Oscar, but Saturday night belonged to Peggy Moffitt, who was feted by a crowd of art and fashion patrons for the newly opened exhibit “The Total Look: The Creative Collaboration Between Rudi Gernreich, Peggy Moffitt, and William Claxton,” which opened Sunday at the MOCA Pacific Design Center. 

Guests got a first look at the MAC Cosmetics-sponsored exhibit, which showcases a selection of  Moffitt’s extensive collection of Gernreich’s creations as well as films and photographs taken by Claxton of Moffitt wearing the clothes. Vidal Sassoon and Peggy Moffitt at 'The Total Look' opening

“We pulled from the over 400 samples [of Gernreich pieces] Peggy has.” Said MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch, who was introduced to Moffitt by the exhibit’s curator, Cameron Silver. “Seeing the fashion is as good as seeing a great painting or sculpture.”

Attendees certainly seemed inspired by Moffitt’s trademark mod-style eye makeup and Gernreich’s graphic, body-conscious pieces, opting to emulate the look that evening. Several women wore a distinct black cat-eye on their lids, and a few donned Holly Golightly-style dresses to get into the '60s spirit. The evening also drew a handful of notable names, including Mila Kunis, Michael and Eva Chow, China Chow, Wolfgang and Gelila Puck, designer Trina Turk, Silver and Moffitt, as well as legendary hairstylist Vidal Sassoon, who sat by Moffitt’s side at dinner and was the first to rise during a standing ovation for the still-striking 75-year-old former model.

For John Demsey, chief executive of MAC Cosmetics, the evening and exhibition brought up a little family history. “My grandfather owned the company that supplied yarn to Rudy Gernreich back when he was designing,” Demsey said.

Impressive what Gernreich, who was based and designed in L.A, did with that yarn until his death in 1985, working it into ahead-of-its-time fashion that still resonates with fans today.

“The Total Look: The Creative Collaboration Between Rudi Gernreich, Peggy Moffitt, and William Claxton” runs through May 20, 2012 at the MOCA Pacific Design Center

-- Melissa Magsaysay


A-list stars attend pre-Oscars Vanity Fair dinner

Marni at H&M collection launches with a star studded Hollywood party

Rooney Mara, Kate Beckinsdale at the Costume Designers Guild Awards

Top photo: Cameron Silver, left, John Demsey, Jeffrey Deitch and Peggy Moffitt at the opening of "The Total Look: The Creative Collaboration Between Rudi Gernreich, Peggy Moffitt, and William Claxton." Credit: David X. Prutting / Billy Farrell Agency

Right photo: Vidal Sassoon and Peggy Moffitt. Credit: David X. Prutting / Billy Farrell Agency

Fashion photographer Lillian Bassman dead at 94

Lillian Bassman and her husband Paul HimmelPhotographer Lillian Bassman came on the fashion scene in the 1940s, '50s and '60s, shooting elegant wasp-waisted women, art directing at Junior Bazaar and inspiring the designers whose creations she photographed. 

She left the fashion scene in the 1970s but returned 20 years later, thanks to some assists from the painter Helen Frankenthaler and photo historian Martin Harrison. Within the last few years, the art and fashion world declared that she was in the midst of a renaissance and renewed interest in her work led to a new book and exhibitions around the world.

Bassman died Monday in New York. She was 94.

According to an obituary in the New York Times, during her first flourishing, Bassman "became highly sought after for her expressive portraits of slender, long-necked models advertising lingerie, cosmetics and fabrics. Her lingerie work in particular brought lightness and glamour to an arena previously known for heavy, middle-aged women posing in industrial-strength corsets."

Bassman's work was featured at the Peter Fetterman Gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica in 2010. Her work was published in "Lillian Bassman" in 1997 and "Lillian Bassman: Women" in 2009.

Dress By Dior
At one time her favorite model was Barbara Mullen, above, noted for her 20-inch waist. "There are models that are not models but muses," Bassman recalled in a 2010 article in the Los Angeles Times. "She had everything marvelous: a beautiful neck, grace, the ability to respond to me.

"We used to get on the floor, and when I get excited, I take my shoes off," she continued. "The two of us would dance. We understood each other."

Mullen agreed. "I felt absolutely wonderful when I moved with was like being heaven."


PHOTOS: A gallery of photos by Lillian Bassman

Lillian Bassman, the return of an icon

'Posing Beauty' photo exhibition at USC Fisher Museum of Art

Celebrities turn out for opening gala of 'Beauty Culture' at the Annenberg Space for Photography

 -- Alice Short

Photos: Top, Lillian Bassman and husband Paul Himmel attend the CFDA hosted viewing of MOMA's "Fashioning Fiction in Photography Since 1990," on April 22, 2004, in Queens, New York. Credit: Andrew Kent / Getty Images

Middle, model Barbara Mullen in a gown by Christian Dior, from Harper's Bazaar, April 1949.  Credit: Estate of Lillian Bassman / Peter Fetterman Gallery.




'Posing Beauty' photo exhibition at USC Fisher Museum of Art

We covered "Beauty Culture," the current exhibition at the Annenberg Space for Photography that explores different interpretations of beauty. And as that show draws to a close this November, the subject is tackled again in an exhibit called "Posing Beauty" at the Fisher Museum of Art at USC.

The exhibition, curated by Deborah Willis, professor at New York University and chair of the school’s department of photography and imaging, is making its West Coast debut at USC from now until Dec. 3. The grouping of 80-plus pieces mostly black-and-white photography aims to present works that capture the aesthetic of each photographer and their relationship with their subject.

Subjects such as beauty queens, 1960s swimsuit models, barber shop culture, couples donning their church clothes and music icons like James Brown and Otis Redding are presented throughout the space and displayed in one of three categories: “Constructing a Pose,” “Body and Image” and “Modeling Beauty and Beauty Contests.”

The photos are gorgeous and the subtext begs for further discussion on what we consider beautiful and the various ways artists and photographers have expressed their feelings on the subject over the last several decades.

Read more about "Posing Beauty" in this Sunday's Image section.


Celebrities turn out for the opening gala of "Beauty Culture" at the Annenberg Space for Photography

As 'All My Children' ends, Susan Lucci recalls top Erica looks

Miss Universe 2011 shares beauty tips

-- Melissa Magsaysay

Photo: "Atlantic City, Four Women," circa 1960s by John W. Mosley. Credit: John W. Mosley, Curatorial Assistance

Fashion News: 'One Day's' elegant Anne Hathaway, casual Rachel Roy

 Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess
Anne Hathaway looked very leading-ladyish Monday night in a strapless, gold and black Alexander McQueen cocktail-length gown at the New York premiere of "One Day," the film in which she stars with Jim Sturgess. [Los Angeles Times] 

Rachel roy at One Day premiere But what was fashion designer Rachel Roy wearing?  Could it be ... it sure looks like ... pajamas! Does this mean the film, which is set to open in wide release Aug. 19, is a snoozer? [The Cut]

No, Roy told InStyle, she had another reason for her ultra-casual look. “I have an 11-year-old and I like to show her that it’s OK to take fashion risks and to have fun and tell a story with fashion,” Roy said. [InStyle]

Before she was creative director of Vogue, Grace Coddington was a model. Now her ex-husband, renowned photographer Willie Christie, plans to show photos he took of her in an exhibition opening in September at The Ivy Club in London. The show, which can be viewed by appointment only, also features rare photos of other folks, including models Jerry Hall and Marie Helvin and rockers David Bowie and Mick Jagger. Coddington and Christie married in 1974, but split up four years later. [Vogue UK]

After she left her post as editor of French Vogue, Carine Roitfeld landed a job styling ads for Barneys' fall campaign. Some of the first have been released, and they star Carine herself,  her son Vladimir and her daughter Julia (among other people.) [WWD]

Ali Lohan, Lindsay's 17-year-old sister, reportedly has been signed to a multiyear modeling contract with NEXT Model Management. [Just Jared]

Revlon has added Hollywood beauties Emma Stone and Olivia Wilde to its roster of global brand ambassadors. [WWD]


Anne Hathaway on that Catwoman suit

Blake Lively, Grace Coddington to judge FNO contest

Fashion News: Amy Winehouse's fashion collection proceeds

 -- Susan Denley

Photos: Top, Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess at the New York premiere of "One Day." Right,  Rachel Roy, looking like she's ready to go straight home to bed, at the same premiere.  Credit: Larry Busacca / Getty Images

Up-and-comers: Smashbox Studios hosts its L.A. Photo Assistants Show


Behind most great photographers are at least a few great assistants. Often photographers themselves, they know their way around light and shadow in the way that Mario Batali knows his way around a meatball.

And there's no better showcase for locally based photo assistants than Smashbox Studios' L.A. Photo Assistants Show, which runs through July 29 at Smashbox Studios in Culver City.

Smashbox2 The idea behind the show is to introduce emerging photographers to top working photographers, photo representatives and  producers.

But for us laypeople it's simply a vibrant exhibition of fashion, beauty, portrait and fine art photos.

Photographers with work on display have assisted well-known shooters including Art Streiber, Jim Marshall, David LaChapelle, Jiro Schneider, Cliff Watts, Craig Cameron Olsen Amanda DeCadanet and Kayt Jones.

Smashbox Studios, 8549 Higuera Street, Culver City.


Heidi Klum bares all for "Runway"

"Beauty Culture:" The eye of the beholder

Photographer Jeremy Kost sheds light on his colorful subjects

-- Emili Vesilind


Photos, from top: Images by Garrett Suhrie and Rollence Patugan. Credit: Smashbox Studios

Photographer Jeremy Kost sheds some light on his colorful subjects

Jkostbookimage New York-based photographer Jeremy Kost is known best for his Polaroid photographs of the most colorful characters in nightlife, including legendary drag queens, transvestites and generally people who create elaborate images for themselves with hair, makeup, heels and a huge persona.

“It’s the fantasy that attracts me,” says Kost “My relationship to the characters and subjects is the metaphor for transformation. They’re like butterflies.”

Though Kost has made a solid dent in the art and nightlife scene over the last decade with his raw and raucous depictions of what aren't your average drag queens but as he points out are “more fantasy, crazy characters, twisted, borderline out of a Tim Burton film,” Kost's career started innocently enough when one night he picked up a friend's Polaroid camera and started snapping pictures.

We caught up with him over the phone from New York, just days after the release of his new photography book “It’s Always Darkest before Dawn.”

How did you get started in photography and specifically start focusing on people in nightlife?
I took a friend’s Polaroid camera out one night to gay night club and started taking pictures. I like to say my whole career happened by mistake. As far as the people, I knew I was visually stimulated by them, but it developed into a conceptual practice and I started realizing what the work meant and represented.

The title of your book is somewhat mysterious. Is it supposed to be about the transformation and emerging from one thing to another? Jkostcover
The title was really serendipitous. I was sitting at dinner at my favorite Chinese place in New York, trying to think of title for my publisher. I was bantering back and forth with my friends and nothing was coming together. I opened one of the fortune cookies and literally this phrase came out (of the cookie). I thought OK, this is it. This has to be the title. It’s the idea of -- is it way too late or way too early?

There are so many elaborate and visually interesting people in your book and that you seem to shoot regularly, do you have any muses?
Amanda Lepore is a muse, they’ve changed over time.  There is also Rainblow and Veruca La Piranha. If you look at the book as a whole, the characters I am attracted to are on that fantastical side-they’re really freaks. I’ve also been finding some really exciting characters in L.A lately, mostly from Orange County and San Diego … people like Disco Dolly and Glitz Glam.

It’s not all nightlife shots in this book, there seem to be quite a few more “editorial” images of the characters in daytime settings.
I’ve actually been shooting less and less in nightlife and focusing more on portrait collage taken during the daytime.  I played with the idea of performance and identity and transformation out of context. What does it mean for this character to be dressing up when it’s unexpected? What does it represent and say about this process and person? The landscape becomes more a part of the piece, creating this surreal reality.

In addition to this book, a collage of yours has recently gone up at the Standard Hotel in West Hollywood.  Were you inspired by L.A when creating that piece?
It’s called Boulevard of Broken Dream and it’s about a specific block of Hollywood Boulevard. When you think about Hollywood Boulevard, it has this air of fame and fortune and glamour, but it can be a pretty disgusting place. I wanted to make this piece to really look at what it is -- broken dreams and fantasies.

-- Melissa Magsaysay

Photos: An image from Kost’s book/Jeremy Kost. The cover of "It’s Always Darkest before Dawn," Powerhouse Books / Jeremy Kost

British photographer Rankin launches a gallery on Melrose

-2 Minnie Driver, Kelis and Jeremy Scott were among the notables who toasted the opening of the new Rankin Gallery on Thursday night.

The new space, at 8070 Melrose Ave., was created by fashion and art photographer — and Dazed & Confused magazine co-owner— John Rankin Waddell (known professionally and personally as Rankin) to showcase his own vast body of work.

The gallery, which opened in conjunction with the Fahey / Klein gallery, is the second for the photographer, who also has a space in his native London.

The gallery has opened with the aptly titled "Open Rankin" show —  a retrospective of his striking work from the last two decades.

We caught up with the photographer for a quick chat about the show, Los Angeles and his elegant new digs:

All the Rage: Why did you decide to open a gallery in Los Angeles?

Rankin: I’ve been coming to Los Angeles for years because I’ve always been a portrait photographer as my bread-and-butter job — and there are lots of portraits to be taken in Los Angeles.

From the first time I came here, I loved the weather and light. Everything about the city is so much calmer than living in London. For me, it’s like coming somewhere and being able to calm down and contemplate what you do. And everyone is very friendly here.There's also a massive ex-pat community too. You meet all these people in some ways you wouldn't normally.

It’s also got a lovely work ethic. You finish at five or six o'clock and you take a nice dinner. Los Angeles has a very community feel to it. [People] get this idea that it’s something that it isn’t. Over the years I started to see it as a second home. I thought, "If I’m going to set up somewhere else, this is the natural place to come." And the art market is getting big here.

Tell me about the show.

RankinLivTylerI guess it’s a greatest hits of my work from the past 20 years. It ranges from fashion work to portraits. There are a few portraits, but they’re a little more unusual than glossy magazine covers. It’s really some of the shots that I’ve been the happiest with.

There aren't a lot of celebrity photos because that's kind of like taking coal to Newcastle [a former coal hub]. There are a few in there; there's a lovely picture of Kate Winslet, where she’s sticking her tongue out after "Heavenly Creatures." There are also some naughty nudes. But it’s all very tasteful.

Just curious — why did you open in L.A. over New York?

New York is almost so similar to London that it’s pointless taking what I do in London and doing it there. They have very similar scenes. Also, I just love having the ability to go and take photos outside here, which is really unique for a photographer like me who works solidly in London. To have a space here and then go out around the city ... there’s every location you can possibly imagine.

Also, this town is set up to make movies and take photographs. It’s a very professional town to work in. People have a "Yes, can do" attitude, as opposed to a "No, it’s too difficult" attitude.

And really, I always enjoy myself here. I’ve never come here and not had an enjoyable time.

-- Emili Vesilind

Photos, from top: Beth Ditto and Liv Tyler, both by Rankin. Credit: Rankin.



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