Having never been to the Fashion and Textile Museum In Bermondsey, London, before, it was a real treat to see a small jewel of an exhibition there last weekend: Louise Dahl–Wolfe: A Style of Her Own.
Extracts from the Fashion and Textile Museum’s website:
Louise Dahl-Wolfe (1895–1989) is one of the most important women fashion photographers of the first part of the 20th century. This is the first major retrospective of her work in the UK, and a key focus of the exhibition is Dahl-Wolfe’s 22 years as leading contributor to Harper’s Bazaar. Considered a pioneer of modern fashion photography, the exhibition highlights how Dahl-Wolfe defined the image of the modern independent post-war woman…
Louise Dahl-Wolfe often photographed on location and mainly outdoors in the then exotic locales of Cuba, South America, Spain and Mexico. Her work appears fresh and spontaneous but was always carefully planned. The exhibition features over 100 photographs spanning three decades, from the 1930s to the 1950s, and presents the work of couture designers Chanel, Balenciaga and Dior, as well as American fashion innovators Claire McCardell and Clare Potter. The models, whose looks set the style for the decade, include Suzy Parker, Jean Patchett, Evelyn Tripp, Mary Jane Russell, Lisa Fonssagrives, Lizzie Gibbons and Liz Benn.
Dahl-Wolfe also created a significant body of portraiture capturing literary figures such as W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood, Colette and Carson McCullers; fashion designers and a major portfolio of Hollywood stars from Bette Davis, Carole Lombard and Vivien Leigh in the 1930s to Lauren Bacall and Veronica Lake in the 1940s …
The exhibition highlights the influence of Dahl-Wolfe on photographers Horst P. Horst, Richard Avedon and Irving Penn. In addition, the Museum will stage a display of other photographic highlights celebrating Bazaar’s 150th anniversary.
I found it a really delightful exhibition for many reasons, not least of which was its’ celebration of one of the great women photographers of the last century.
In this exhibition, Dahl–Wolfe’s Photography was sometimes playful, sometimes elegant and often, magnificent. I found her juxtaposition of fashion and spectacular geographical location quite stunning as were some beautifully natural portraits – loved the Yves Montand. Some of the fashion shots were so contemporary in style that, with a little technical improvisation, they stand comparison to today.
There was so much of interest, and to admire, including, in a separate room, other photographer’s work celebrating Bazaar’s 150th, that we quite ran out of time.
If you think might be interested in seeing this exhibition, it is on until 21 January 2018. I’d urge you to go:
(The images here were snapped on my phone so many apologies for poor quality. There is a fabulous book available, published last year: A Style Of Her Own by Oliva Maria Rubio if you’d like to read/see more of Louise Dahl-Wolfe’s work).