Individuals: 20 Portraits from the Gap collection
by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, 2006
© Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin
Past display archive
12 February - 28 May 2007
Born as a small clothes shop on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco in 1969, 'the Gap' expanded to become the number one retail shop in America with over three thousand outlets worldwide. In 1988, the company launched the latest of its advertising campaigns - 'Individuals of Style' - bold black and white photographs of famous faces wearing Gap items, combined with their own clothes to create a portrait of each individual's personal style. Using the world's leading photographers and now shot occasionally in colour, the campaign continues today.
Coinciding with the Face of Fashion exhibition, this display brings together 20 stunning portraits from the Gap collection and the new book, Individuals.
Anticipating the great shift towards celebrity endorsement in advertising, the campaign reads like a who's who of the arts world for the past twenty years, featuring the great names from film, fine art, literature and music. Given its beginnings in 1960s San Francisco, the counter-cultural leanings of the list are easily apparent, with big names like Madonna, Missy Elliott and Joss Stone sitting alongside the likes of beat novelist William Burroughs, investigative journalist Dominick Dunne and controversial American pop artist, Jim Dine.
The National Portrait Gallery's selection of twenty portraits from the portfolio explores Gap's perceptive choice of personalities, the range of leading photographers who contributed: Annie Leibovitz, Steven Meisel, Herb Ritts and Albert Watson, among them; and not least, Gap's canny realisation that fashion needs a face to appeal to the public.