Past exhibition
10 June to 3 September 2023

A Personal View on High Fashion & Street Style

Photographs from the Nicola Erni Collection. 1930s to Now

Since the 1930s, magazines including Vogue and Harper's Bazaar have been full of fashion photos of models in the most outrageous outfits, alongside flawless pictures from the catwalk or in the studio. Bubbling to the surface, meanwhile, is street fashion photography, whose candid snapshots are introducing urban looks to the mainstream. The exhibition A Personal View on High Fashion & Streetstyle. Photographs from the Nicola Erni Collection. 1930s to Now provides a unique and bold insight into almost one hundred years of haute couture and street fashion photography: from supermodels and shoulder pads to street style looks on social media.

Haute couture: the perfect picture

A fashion magazine without pictures is something none of us could ever imagine. And yet for a long time, this was completely normal. It was only in the 1910s that the conventional illustrations of dresses and skirts first start being replaced by photographs. Pioneering fashion photographers such as Richard Avedon, Sarah Moon, Irving Penn, and Peter Lindbergh begin taking aspirational images of ‘perfect women’ and ‘ideal lifestyles’. Modelling makes some girls world-famous – everyone knows Twiggy!

Photo Jan-Kees Steenman
Tyler Mitchell, Untitled (Zendaya), 2019. Pigment print, printed 2020. Edition 1 of 3. Nicola Erni Collection
Albert Watson, Sebastian in Issey Miyake, New York, 1989. Pigment print. Edition 9 of 25. Nicola Erni Collection © Photo by Albert Watson
Photo Jan-Kees Steenman

Street fashion: urban style

At the same time, street fashion photographers observe people from different social backgrounds as they go about their day in the city. Their street photographs aim to portray real life and real fashion: from the flares of the 1960s to the shoulder pads of the 1980s. Street fashion photographers like Bill Cunningham and Scott Schuman pour their heart and soul into taking photos of style icons and fashion week visitors. Street style is a growing presence on the catwalk.

Esther Haase, The Fearless Lola Walking the Lion King, for Stern, Miami, 1999. Pigment print, printed 2018. Edition 5 of 10. Nicola Erni Collection © Esther Haase.
Amy Arbus, Flip Family, 1987. Vintage gelatin silver print. Edition 3 of 25. Nicola Erni Collection © Amy Arbus, Courtesy of CLAMP, New York.

The perfect picture

‘A fashion that does not reach the streets is not a fashion’: these are the famous words of iconic French designer Coco Chanel. And she was right, which is why High Fashion & Street Style showcases the decades-long relationship between haute couture and street fashion. The world-famous fashion photographs not only track the development of style and taste, but also capture the zeitgeist. This is an inspiring and fabulous ode to fashion.

Photo Jan-Kees Steenman
Photo Jan-Kees Steenman
Photo Jan-Kees Steenman

A present-day perspective

Whether idealized images, gender stereotypes, or diversity (or lack thereof): the fashion world has many facets. And as we all know, looks can be deceiving. What makes something a fashion picture? Is it the clothes, the styling, the photographer, or the platform? Experts including editor-in-chief of Vogue Nederland Yeliz Çiçek, make-up artist and gender diversity educator Sharmila Vooren, and Patta’s creative director Vincent van de Waal share their thoughts on current themes in a video shown in the exhibition.

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