This Winter, the biggest ever exhibition of Guy Bourdin’s photography has opened at Somerset House in London, it has taken fashion photography out of the context of magazines and placed it on white gallery walls where the images prove even more provocative. If you don’t know much about Guy Bourdin, he was a French photographer – a protegee of Man Ray, who revolutionized the pages of fashion magazines by telling a story with his images and making fashion, a bit less important than the actual image.
When guests look around Guy Bourdin’s exhibition, they associate him with shoes – he obviously brings this accessory to life in advertisements, but more important to us is what he did to our favourite fashion accessory – hats. Unmentioned in his exhibition, Bourdin was initially hired by French Vogue to photograph hats, the photography landscape was plain and instead of posing millinery infront of the Effiel Tower as was the norm at the time – he slaughtered tradition and put a model in a wide brimmed veil head-piece in front of a butchers. This was the start of his surreal fashion career.
The exhibition also features a selection of paintings, working drawings, sketches and notebooks, not seen in the UK before which show Bourdin’s craft for fashion photography. Yet the images on show don’t express his interesting take on photographing millinery which carried on for years, once he even placed dead flies and bees on the face of the models wearing a head-piece, a controversial move for his time and again in that example – the art is most important than the hat, yet any accessory placed in such a striking position – will never be forgotten.
Here’s some of our favourite images made by Guy Bourdin, featuring millinery – which aren’t on show in the exhibition: