Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia 8/97 Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia 8/97 Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia 8/97 Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia 8/97 Paolo Roversi for Vogue Italia 2/96 Paolo Roversi for Vogue Italia 2/96 Paolo Roversi for Vogue Italia 2/96 Peter Lindbergh for Vogue Italia 5/99 Peter Lindbergh for Vogue Italia 5/99 Peter Lindbergh for Vogue Italia 5/99

AND TODAY IN 90’S EDITORIAL GOODNESS, we bring you more 90s-pop-feminism-influenced fashion-androgyny by which I mean “Stella Tennant and then some nakie models with messy hair,” plus the last time that neon opaque blue and yellow lipstick was a thing! 

Previously: Arena Homme eds by Stevens Meisel & Klein, the Self Service archives, and more Arena Homme from ‘96. It’s okay if you go ahead and print it all out and paper your walls with it, ‘cuz I was thinking about that too.

[Via the TFS vintage magazines thread, which I could obviously spend weeks browsing.]

For whatever reason I’ve been sort of not super jazzed up on fashion lately? Maybe it’s winter blues (no snow but I still have to wear tights and 47 layers every day!? what is this!?) or maybe it’s that I’ve been busy with 18 other projects — but the good ole “fashion blogging universe” has just sort of been not keeping my attention super well this past month or so.

But! Let’s not be depressing! So instead of talking about my irritation at this (lies, I’ll just talk about it parenthetically! check it out! a bunch of old white dudes and a few token black guys and a lady or two! how interesting! and by interesting I mean “god how depressing is everything ever” but ANYHOW) let’s feel enthusiastic about lady photographers and how much I love New York, right?! As if I don’t post about these things enough!  But these people seem obvious to me but maybe you have not encountered them before, so.  Berenice Abbott!

Berenice Abbott’s “Changing New York" — her exhaustive collection of photos of New York in the 1930’s, the archives of which now live over at the NYPL — is awesome for all of the reasons we always love photos of New York in ages past, right?  It’s part “Oh snap! That’s the Starrett Lehigh building! Once I totally bombed an interview at a studio there!” and part fascination at the things we don’t recognize; something both familiar and bittersweet about the things that are both the same despite the things that are different, like the persistent stark contrast of poverty and wealth, of new and old, that seems in so many ways to define this city.  

There’s also the fact that while Abbott was known primarily for her photographs of New York (and a bunch of boring science stuff, like photographing balls in motion yaawwwwnnnn) those of us in on the joke can deduce pretty quickly what “lived with Djuna Barnes in the Village for a while” probably means.  (Unsurprisingly, some of her photos are in that Hide/Seek show at the Brooklyn Museum that I still haven’t gone to because I suck but I’m going Thursday I swear!)  Abbott’s portraits — of herself, of Barnes, Janet Flanner, Gertrude Stein, Edna St Vincent Millay, Betty Parsons, and more — can be read also as a not-so-subtle but still-unspoken record of queer identities in her era in New York and Paris. Cool!


Russian-born Nina Leen was one of the first female photographers to shoot for LIFE magazine, which, fortunately for us, means there’s a ton of her work available on the Google LIFE photo archives. While mostly known for her work with animals (including a dog named Lucky that she adopted and apparently put hats on), it’s Leen’s photographs of women that I find most fascinating.  Admittedly, to some extent the period of time in which she was working for LIFE — the late 40s through the 1950s — dictated that bizarre style of “it’s totally not posed, I swear, I just stand this awkwardly and grin with a box of kitchen supplies all the time, not to mention we are all white and very happy all the time” photography. (The original “woman laughing alone with salad?”)

But when juxtaposed with her more candid shots (a girl falling down at a skating rink, a woman on the phone in an office, women trying on shoes, cleaning their living rooms, browsing stores) they provide a surprising amount of insight into the expectations versus reality of being a young woman in that era.  Exposé photoessays on the work of housewives or of young working girls (like we know from Mad Men, most of them are either secretaries or models) ran in contrast to Upper East Side socialites walking their dogs or glamorous women in evening gowns posed like mannequins.  Intentionally or otherwise, her work as a whole provides an interesting study on idealized femininity and the public versus private lives of women and the world, separate from that of men, in which they were forced to exist.

More photos after the jump.

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The answer to that “if you could only wear one designer for the rest of your life” question is, for me, always and indisputably Helmut Lang.  Quality, minimal tailoring, a solid drape and damn nice leather jackets have somehow looked impossibly chic for years now: the subtlety and consistency of the whole shebang always makes me want to buy every last piece even if nothing really amazing or new has happened there in years.  Twitter blew up over those Van Gogh prints at Rodarte this season, but the Richard-Serra-inspired texture prints and architectural cuts at Helmut Lang’s first runway show in years interested me so much more — again, the subtlety is so much more compelling than the loud, flashy, and obvious.

So of course, Luxirare’s recent post of old Helmut Lang ad campaigns kicked me off on another ridiculous internet research spiral for more. Awesome photographers (Mapplethorpe, Juergen Teller, Bruce Weber), uncomfortably close or decontextualized macro shots, and that vague, disconnected, and blasé sexuality — it’s basically perfect, NBD.

self service magazine, 1997-2002

I can’t get over the absolute goldmine that is Self Service's new online archive — I think I saved half a dozen images from every issue posted to my hard drive and Pinterest today.  I wish I could take all my damn outfit photos on a disposable camera, complete with date stamp and requisite lens-viewfinder parallax-induced decapitation due to double lens reflex. Also maybe I need to wear only one hoop earring and frosted lipstick at all times from here on out, yes? I swear that photo above just suddenly made me get the whole Chloe Sevigny thing for basically the first time ever.

Most of it just speaks for itself — more after the jump, but it’s totally worth dedicating an hour to browse the whole collection as well.

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bon duke x vanessa hegelmaier for stylecaster

Loving basically everything about this ed from, of all places, Stylecaster by photographer Bon Duke — the makeup! (green eyeshadow in the inner corners?! THOSE EYEBROWS!) the hair! the layers and the mix of 90s punk tomboy streetwear and then the slick red, black, white, and leopard!  all that stuff from Bess, I will never get tired of stylists putting something from Bess into every shoot they do! the heavy-handed cross-process filter, everything, everything blue and yellow all of the time! Jumping around in Chinatown! Unnecessary headphones in shots in case we didn’t get that it was “edgy” even though it’s really just product placement! All that Givenchy! $19,821 outfits that I can recreate with pocket change on St Marks! All of these things! I like all of these things! Rest after the jump.

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danny lyon | brooklyn, summer 1974

How wonderful are these photos of Brooklyn in the summer of 1974, from photographer Danny Lyon? For the unacquainted, as always: Lyon, along somewhat more widely acclaimed contemporaries Mary Ellen Mark, Robert Frank, and Larry Clark, was among the photojournalists known for their focus on imperfect reality and on the photographers’ involvement with their subjects’ lives, rather than striving for well-composed, technically perfect images from a physical and emotional distance.  

Lyon’s deliberate choice to embrace imperfections — most of these photos are ill-exposed, crooked, blurred, or interrupted by a too-close body or object — belies his empathetic intent: the heat and energy and constant buzz of the city comes through here in ways that “better” photographs don’t permit.  The images here call to mind Helen Levitt, Walker Evans, and a grittier, less “fashionable” version of Bruce Davidson’s Brooklyn Gang.  Also: restraining myself from gushing again about the warmth and grain and depth of fields of old film photography but that horse has been dead for ages so I’m only going to passive aggressively mention it in passing (o see what i did thar?)

Plenty more of these after the jump, but also worth noting are Lyon’s images of Chicago motorcycle gangs in The Bikeriders, which put LIFE magazine’s documentation of motorcycle gangs sorely to shame.

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mtv generation

I don’t know about you guys, but in my head the entire world basically exists through a wide-angle or fisheye lens in a room with quirky wallpaper or maybe on some street corner/field/highway in LA/fire escape and then run through some super cross-processed high contrast or desaturated sepia filter. We have already noticed this little 24mm addiction problem I have, yes? There also are a lot of ball-chain necklaces and girls with short hair in baseball teeshirts and/or slipdresses and boots, also brooding men often wearing nail polish. 

Possibly there is something wrong with me, or maybe it was just that (despite my parents’ valiant efforts to the contrary!) I was exposed to an excess of these mid-to-late-90s music videos during my formative years? Either way, bonus points for every last one of them here that you can identify.  

Also, someone needs to explain to me why I haven’t been hit over the head with an excess of fashion editorials styled, coloured, and edited like this yet?  I’m over all this Avedon-revival and Slimane-clone clean B+W portraits thing, bring me back some Yelena Yemchuk and Juergen Teller and early Steven Klein colours and angles, please.

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i went to los angeles to be a bridesmaid when one of my bffs from college got married, here are some of the pictures.

in retrospect one begins to notice things that initially you didn’t realise you were photographing: something mysterious and strange about the cult of girlhood and what it means, collectively, to be a twenty five year old american woman; something about vague connections of childhood and adulthood and rites of passage; probably something about feeling my viewpoint as somehow some kind of outsider (these things now forbidden to me, even in california, by law); the routines and ritual of high heels and makeup and curled hair and silk dresses, the quiet and serious way that women do these things behind closed doors for the planned photos of the event later; the way we remember things versus they way they are photographed formally; the alien and beautiful colours and light and geography and plants and water and sky of the west coast

heidi you looked beautiful and i’ve said it a gazillion times already but i am so happy for you and i hope you and zach are happy forever and ever

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patti smith + robert mapplethorpe by judy linn

Sorry kids, is this too many photography posts in a week? But seriously, you guys — that photo of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe on their balcony that everyone ever loves has been done to death and we still love it, but check out these images of the two of them, shot by Judith Linn (who teaches at my alma mater, and who I definitely had no idea was hanging around Manhattan with Patti Smith  before she became, you know, some other art professor at my college.)  A book of the images just came out, and the show opens at Feature on the LES tomorrow evening.

More after the jump.

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kourtney roy - soup magazine

What is it lately with my obsession with photographers who make creepy doll-like parodies of stereotypical feminine roles, images, or clothing?  I can’t get enough of this ed from Soup Mag by photographer Kourtney Roy. (Thanks for tuning me in to it, Alexa!) I’m sure I read too much into these or see a depth that wasn’t intended, and it’s not as if this sort of thing hasn’t been done so many times to almost be painfully trite (gag me with a spoon, Cindy Sherman), but I still can’t get over the stylized, sarcastic artifice of it all, and if it still gets to me, it can’t yet be overdone. It’s like a set of ominous tarot cards of possible female futures or roles: the virgin bride, the whore, the beauty queen, the mother, the cheerleader, the flight attendant, the secretary, the trophy wife… all presented in front of a bizarre painted Americana backdrop worthy of an AMNH “colonialism FTW” diorama.