The V&A 'Horst: Photographer of Style' Exhibition

Thursday, 20 November 2014

On Monday, our course travelled to London to visit the V&A museum to see the 'Horst: Photographer of Style' exhibition - a retrospective look at the work and career of the iconic fashion photographer, Horst P. Horst, renowned for creating images that transcend both fashion and time. Unfortunately photography was prohibited within the exhibition, but here are some images I managed to locate online.
The exhibition is split into sections, each showcasing Horst's myriad of diverse work ranging from; 'Haute Couture', 'Surrealism', 'Stage and Screen', 'Travel', 'Patterns from Nature', 'The Studio',  'Fashion in Colour, 'Living in Style', 'Nudes' and 'Platinum'. The 3D design of the entrance of the exhibition references Horst's notorious skill of playing with both light and dark, creating striking shadows. 
Horst is perhaps known best for his photography of haute couture and first joined Vogue in 1931. Horst became a forerunner of fashion photography as Vogue began to shift away from its previous illustrative fashion content, with Horst producing innovative and elegant fashion images, showcasing haute couture pieces of the day.  
The end of the 'Haute Couture' section features mannequins dressed in original pieces that Horst would have photographed such as dresses from Mainbocher, Lanvin and Vionnet. 
The Surrealist art movement transformed fashion and indefinitely had an influence on Horst's work. His photographs from this time were both mysterious and whimsical with a strong focus on the female body. During this time he produced one of his most famous and celebrated image, 'Mainbocher Corset'. 
The exhibition also showcases some of Horst's lesser known work, which focus more on nature, lifestyle and his worldly travels. 
My favourite part of the exhibition was 'Fashion in Colour', which showed how the advent of colour photography enabled a fresh approach as Horst went on to create more than 90 Vogue covers. The extensive collection of covers for British, American and French Vogue, photographed by Horst, are showcased within the exhibition, impressively spanning the length of the room; providing a retrospective look at the transformation of the magazine over the years.  
If you get the chance to, I would definitely recommend a trip to the V&A to catch the exhibition as it provided an extensive and fascinating collection of archival works from the world's leading fashion photographers of the 20th century. 

"Fashion is an expression of the times. Elegance is something else again." 

Horst, 1984

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