Thursday, 16 July 2009

Edward Steichen

It seems that whenever inspiration fails you, all you need to do is look back. People often talk of things not being as good today as they were in the past. I don't know how true that is, maybe we are just inclined to put a rose-tinted perspective on the past and things in the past weren't necessarily better, just different. Nevertheless, it is interesting to look at how life, fashion par exemple was compared to now. Before popular culture invaded life in the sixties, people really seemed to know how to dress. Hollywood cinema of the thirties wasn't called the Golden Age for nothing, it was glamour in the true sense of the word and not the page 3 kind that exists now. Anna Wintour reckons fashion is about going forward, and in a sense she is right but that doesn't mean we can't take a little slice of the past with us and mix it up to create something contemporary.

Anyway, all this rambling does have a point. I came across the photographer Edward Steichen, a name I think I've come across before but actually really looked at recently (today!). He began his career in fashion photography in the early 1900's in Paris and became the photographer of Paul Poiret's collection. However he was more interested in fine art photography. It wasn't until the 1920's and a meeting with Frank Crowninshield, editor of Vanity Fair, and Conde Nast that he was offerered job as chief photographer for Vanity Fair and his career as fashion photographer restarted.

His photographs capture that whole glamourous side of life that is often associated with the twenties and thirties. He photographed a number of actresses at the time including Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford. Although clearly placed within their time I think they are as interesting and inspirational as can see his influence in fashion photography today, and I think setting the style of modern day Vanity Fair fashion editorials.

An example of his fine art photography

Thanks to Smithsonian for some of the images and information


  1. your introduction is fantastic, not rambly at all!! and i agree about how interesting it is to look back through different decades :) his work is beautiful, that first photo is simply breathtaking .

    and Thanks heaps for the suggestion, i shall surf the internet and seek inspiration! and hope the work and stress calms down soon for you too :)!

  2. love the dress in the 4th photo


  3. Loveeee these! There was an exhibit (on fashion photography) at the International Center of Photography in NYC that included some of his work (well, A LOT of his work). It was very cool!

  4. Wonderful post. I didn't find it rambly at all; quite the opposite in fact - it was very informative. What decadent photographs. I love the era he captured in his work. So gorgeous! :)

  5. Such amazing post Honey!

    Have a great Friday!

  6. gorgeous blog headers and photos :)
    i love how old fashioned looking your blog is! xoxo

  7. Lovely post, I always wondered whether he influenced Beaton or vice versa? I have to do a post on Beaton one of these days, he's a huge influence on my portraits.

  8. thats gorgeous..LOVE the vintage photos
    i just want to have these around my house




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