Olivier Spillebout's Editorial

Olivier Spillebout by Serge Deleu

Fashion and Photography, Curator Olivier Spillebout

Fashion & Photography… what a lovely match! Just like last year with cinema, the 2008 edition illustrates the whole links between these two universes.
Then we do not offer just a set of themes around “Fashion photography” but more widely we propose to explore the “connections with the cloth”.

True to its general-interest character, the programming proposes a wide range of connections between Fashion and Photography, presenting pictures from the designers’ world or others much further away, such as when photographs illustrate our dress code or ceremonial.

2008 will be marked by a prestigious partnership with PHOTO magazine, a reference for many artists, amateurs as well as professionals. We will pay a tribute to this magazine with an exhibition in Tri Postal of the most beautiful covers by the greatest photographers and of the greatest amateur photo contest in the world.
It rocked my first loves with photography and I am so very happy that Eric Colmet Dâage hosts today the Transphotographiques in its pages.

We renew with the tradition by greeting a guest of honour who is the highlight of the festival. Who but Karl Lagerfeld could embody these two universes, Fashion and Photography? He certainly is a leading light in the world of Fashion. But if everyone knows his work as a designer, he is little known by the general public as a photographer.
With a substantial exhibition, on almost two levels in Tri Postal, it’s a lot of his intimacy that we share with Karl Lagerfeld, years of collaboration with a top model, Brad Kroenig, and a designer, gone behind the lens.

We open a more historical chapter in Maison de la Photographie with a series of 20 pictures, loaned by Gallery Baudoin Lebon, of a photographer who is considered as the first Fashion photographer, Baron Adolphe de Meyer. In the 20’s he worked with prestigious magazines, still famous nowadays, such as Vanity Fair or Vogue. These magazines have always been on the side of the photographical reproduction of the designers creations, which prove that Fashion and Photography are linked tight.

For over 10 years, Peter Knapp was the Art Director of the weekly magazine ELLE. Then, more than a photographer, he presents us his vision of an “A.D.” through this exhibition in Colysée, Maison Folie of Lambersart. Twenty years of his work, from the 60’s to the 80’s, are exhibited here. Other parts of the festival’s programming are reflected in these photos, for instance that Peter Knapp series on Karl Lagerfeld’s couture.

One more vision, particularly strong and poetic: the American photographer‘s, David Seidner.
This large exhibition is offered by Jean-Luc Monterosso and is the first retrospective since the photographer died 8 years ago.
As a matter of interest, before he died David Seidner has donated the greatest part of his work to the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, and Jean-Luc Monterosso, its director, wished since then to pay him a tribute. Now, with this retrospective shown in Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille, and these series of Fashion photos, nudes, portraits and historicals, fruit of years of association with Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé, it’s done.

Jeanloup Sieff is worshiped by the world of Fashion, famous for his shocking pictures, and particularly Yves Saint-Laurent’s nude. “64+4”, suggested by Barbara Rix-Sieff and Valerie Servant, presents unreleased pictures of the photographer in which lies his genius for approaching Fashion photography.

We give Gallery Baudoin Lebon Carte Blanche and they present the exhibition “Réflecteur – le sujet devient auteur d’image”. Former models become photographers deliver their very personal and original vision of picture, honed by their own background.

The Transphotographiques offers its walls to the digital pictures rewarded by the Arcimboldo prize. Picturing the first ten years of life of this visionary prize, one of the first ever to value the digital creation, this retrospective allows us to discover or rediscover the inventiveness of the prize-winners, some famous – Orlan, Catherine Ikam -, others still young photographers.

The conclave room of Palais Rihour hosts an unreleased work of Charles Fréger, “Hereros”. We are far from what we call Fashion photography here, and there was no evidence his work should be part of this very edition. Nevertheless, after the “Uniforme” series, “Hereros” confirms how and how much cultural or social communities dress, get themselves up and choose to use clothes as a way to identify oneself or to play a part. As we can guess from the models and the scenery, we are in Namibia. But here clothes display their identities, their sufferings or their history. Then it seems like it is German officers of the early 20th century or Scottish “Royal Highlanders” that appears to us.

With the three Tereza Vlckovà series, exhibited at Hôtel de Région, Tri Postal and Colysée of Lambersart, we are on the borderline between real Fashion works, destined to a magazine and used to presents a designer’s work, and the work as an auteur. The “Little Garden” series reveals a young Czech designer’s creation Ondrej Adamek, whereas the “Twin” series is one of Tereza’s particularly accomplished and personal works. She uses brilliantly the new digital technologies, retouching colours and discarding useless details.
Czech Fashion photography, as Vladimir Birgus says, was for a long time almost inexistent, most of the articles and photos in the press were actually taken from French, British, Italian or American press. These wonderful series of Tereza Vlckovà and designer Ondrej Adamek are a beautiful sample of the new Prague creativeness, published in progressive magazines like Blok.
Tereza Vlckovà has recently received best young female photographer award at Prague Biennale.

Just like in 2007 with cinema, many photographers set up their photos to tell stories.
Clothe or costume, disguise, cloth, is widely used by Elene Usdin, for Fashion magazine or to promote Opera du Rhin. Sometimes she creates the costumes herself, as her imagination and dreams took her. The “Magic Fillette” series is exhibited at Galerie Le Carré. This is the “young creative Fashion photography”, admirably out of step with our usual idea of what is “Fashion photography”.

Speaking about “Creative Fashion” we had to invite Eugenio Recuenco. As Palais des Beaux-Arts of Lille is about to celebrate Goya’s “Whims”, we ought to exhibit the works of one of his true heir, inspired by Spanish painting and advancing towards moving pictures. Some series of his mysterious and masterly chiaroscuro as well as some of his short movies are exhibited at Tri Postal in Lille.

Sabine Pigalle also refers to painting, notably her series « Le 6ème jour » shown at St Maurice church.
As Usdin, she makes a great deal of costume and mise-en-scene.
Her other work in Tri Postal illustrates the anthropomorphic relationships between mankind and animal.
As Vlckovà, Sabine Pigalle shares with us her very personal view of Twins, twins like man and animal both transforming itself according to some fashion phenomenon.

The Polish artist Ewa Lowzyl, like Tereza Vlckovà, embodies revenge: the one of the young creation from former communist bloc on the lack of creativity and originality of the previous years. Also like Tereza Vlckovà, Ewa Lowzyl uses felicitously the digital tool to transform her models, or fill out her (our) interrogations. Is my body really a body?

These altered bodies from Ewa Lowzyl are reminiscent of most of Joel Peter Witkin, shown in 2003 in Cathedrale de la Treille in Lille. We seized the opportunity to invite Joel Peter Witkin, who’s not originally a Fashion photographer either. But he put on its clothes for a special series for New York Times in which he looks at Fashion with his outside view.

Young photographers Julien Claessens and Laurent Julliand reveal, each one in its own way, a relevant black and white look on the backstage of Fashion shows. The first one is exhibited in Tri Postal of Lille, the second one in Quai 26 in Roubaix.

After French, Czech, American, Spanish, Polish, we expand our invitation to young European creation to the Italian photographer Francesca Bertolini. This exhibition is for lovers of beautiful black and white print who can discover there an auteur work, far from Fashion photography, but full of the memory of a place that made Fashion what it is. Here Max Mara headquarters after moving offices in a more modern place. Oh so full of melancholy pictures, such melancholy that is so often told in black and white by photographers.

It is very interesting to compare that series with Olivia Gay’s work, presented in Condition Publique in Roubaix.
Indeed, on the other hand, Olivia Gay’s work is devoted to a very lively place, the headquarters of the Roubaix firm La Redoute; a place that is part of what is Fashion today, a place full of the history of mail order selling and of cloth in Nord Pas-de-Calais.
With La Redoute for curator, this exhibition also presents other photographers who made the most emblematic pages of the catalogue, like Dominique Isserman or Kate Barry.

Mail order selling is associated with the territory of Nord Pas-de-Calais and has always called upon the service of Fashion photographer.
Such is the case of Joseph Chiaramonte who was commissioned by many of those brand names.
Joseph, who is the symbol of our regional creativeness, is also the originator of Sight magazine, presented in Tri Postal.
He also presents a series of seven photographs entitled “L’ange”.

Two group exhibitions end the 2008 programming. The first one, called “La ville et la modernité, la jeune fille dans la ville” is a proposition by agnès b. and will be presented in Jardin de Mode in the South of Lille. Koudelka, Dityvon, Riboud or Doisneau are some of the photographers exhibited here.

The second exhibition is devoted to the wonderful art collection of Musée des beaux-arts et de la dentelle of Calais. After FRAC in 2007, we carry on our invitation to the regional cultural institutions. Discover or rediscover here the works, most of them commissioned by the Musée, of Nancy Wilson-Pajic, Valerie Belin, Pierre et Gilles, Man Ray, Sam Levin or Pierre Molinier

Finally let’s go and see in Lille the exhibitions of Henrike Stahl, Victor Manuel Fernandez and the group exhibition by Galerie Hollevout ; and in Roubaix, Frédéric Cornu, as well as the exhibitions of Matej Andraž Vogincic & Vuk Cosic and of Xavier Alphand & Françoise André.

This hopefully lush edition may not have been without the support of the artists, curators, galleries and partners. Among the most faithful partners, we would like to give special thanks to our top partners, the Region of Nord Pas-de-Calais and the City of Lille. We’d also like to say our gratitude to PHOTO magazine that will promote our project, and thus the whole Region, far beyond our borders.