“Les chic français, Images de femmes 1900-1950” photos and text by Runzhou SUN

Dear Diane and Shaded Viewers,

Last week I went on a one-day trip to  Evian-les-Bain for an exhibition at the Palais Lumière : the subject was the  evolution of fashion photography at the beginning of  the 20th century in France. How did the photographers edit the photos when there was no Photoshop? How was the female body represented on the first print fashion magazine? How has the lifestyle and the status of women changed during this period? We can find the answers to all these questions within this exhibition.

Around the start of the 20th century, merging reality with the imagination, photographers became the storytellers of fashion. Sylvain Besson, one of the curators  told me that today’s fashion magazine is less editorial and that photography matters now more than ever. “ I would like to show people the origin of fashion photography and how fashion magazines transformed from image-oriented to photo-oriented.”

The elegance of black and white photos is empathized by the color printing magazines. One difference  from the hustle and bustle of high fashion,I can feel the quietness and loneliness of haute-couture in those days. One female photographer in particular caught my eye – Germaine Krull. Although now there are more and more talented female  photographers, in 1900’s,photography was not considered a “mainstream” profession for women. Different from her male counterparts,Germaine’s works are more like a documentary which reflects the details of a women’s daily life in that era. Her photos also reveal that fashion is not just about beauty or good-looking clothes, but also it is an expression of an attitude and a lifestyle.