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Fashion shots: Moss photos in exhibition

09 November 2006, The Guardian

A major exhibition will examine how the glamorous, sometimes transgressive world of fashion photography has contributed to portraiture. It will include nine images of Kate Moss at all stages of her career, from fragile-looking teenager to the enigmatic, beautiful-but-tarnished icon of today.
The National Portrait Gallery exhibition, which opens in February, will draw together more than 100 photographs dating from 1990 to the present, by five photographers chosen to represent the broadest possible range of fashion portraiture.

Highlights of Face of Fashion will include Corinne Day's work with Moss, including an image from their infamous first collaboration for Vogue magazine in 1993, in which the model, emaciated and waif-like, posed in what appeared to be a down-at-heel council flat clad in dreary underwear.
The story took grunge into the mainstream, and became notorious for apparently promoting what was dubbed "heroin chic".

Another work by Day, made in 1990, sees a delicate, vulnerable, almost impossibly young-looking Moss shot tight against a wall, frowning into the sun - part of a shoot for the Face that did not make the editorial cut at the time.

Mario Sorrenti's playful, often subversive photographs of stars such as Catherine Deneuve, Sharon Stone and Lauren Hutton in glamorous Hollywood-diva poses or with bodies awkwardly torqued and twisted will be shown, as will Paolo Roversi's elegant, romantic portraits of actors such as Tilda Swinton and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Steven Klein - "the most subversive of all the photographers in the show", according to curator Susan Bright - will be represented via a startling image of Justin Timberlake, snarling and bloody-nosed.

"At the time the photograph was taken," said Ms Bright, "he was leaving Back Street Boys, his image was very asexual and the average age of his fans was about 12. This image helped him turn visibly into a man." Klein's work with Brad Pitt performed a similar task - transforming the star into a shaven-headed, dangerous hardman around the time of his starring role in David Fincher's 1999 film Fight Club.

Finally, there will be a selection of Mert and Marcus's highly stylised, artificial pictures, "which use the body almost like a stage set" according to Sandy Nairne, director of the National Portrait Gallery.

"The debate about the size and shape of models goes on," he added. "I'm sure the range of images in this exhibition will add to that discussion."

By Charlotte Higgins, arts correspondent

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