A#20 curator Pierpaolo Piccioli incited a monumental artistic dialogue for the Valentino Haute Couture AW2021-22 collection, inviting 15 artists to create garments directly linked with works of contemporary art.
Nip / Tuck
by Imruh Asha & Carlijn Jacobs
Until the 1990s and even later still, the profession of ‘stylist’ was reduced to that of a sort of dresser – the unsung hero of the fashion image whose name went uncredited in the pages of style magazines whilst the fame of photographers compounded year by year. Fast forward to 2020 and this balance has been reconciled somewhat, as the talents of brilliant stylists the world over have been recognised for the creative vision that their choices, ideas and experiments bring to the practice of image-making today.
Often, this talent involves illusion – the sculpting, smoothing, exaggerating and concealing of garments, props and accessories to create engaging silhouettes that re-contextualise and accentuate designers’ ideas from the runway, comment on social movements in fashion and style, and coax unexpected and inspiring effects from even the most banal garments.
In a time when the creative freedom of stylists has come under fire at the behest of luxury brands insisting on the ‘full look’ mentality – inhibiting stylists from mixing different brands in a single editorial image – we look at the methodology of styling itself in this visual portfolio by Paris-based stylist Imruh Asha photographed by long-time collaborator Carlijn Jacobs.
‘Most of the pieces are from my personal styling archive,’ says Asha, of the bright, block-coloured pieces he chose as a vibrant backdrop for each image designed to mimic the ‘behind-the-scenes’ process of meticulous pinning, folding, clipping and manipulation that goes into preparing garments for a fashion image. ‘My archive consists mostly of designer and non-designer pieces which I use for styling in photoshoots — basically it is an extension to my styling kit of clips and pins etc. I love tuxedo shirts on women, for example, as I love to break stigmas — back in the day this is something that only men would wear, but when you put it on a woman it can still create a new contradiction,’ he told A Magazine Curated By. ‘The colourful vintage shirts are items that I always try to take on set — I have a full colour range of these shirts. They are perfect for moments when you miss something — sometimes the element that is missing is a combination of colours that just don’t look right yet, and you just need that one pop of colour to finish the colour combinations in that specific look you are creating. But, it could also be that extra layer that gives a bit more depth. I really look at these pieces purely from a stylist’s point of view — I don’t wear this clothing, I store this in my studio and only use it for my work.’
For another look at fashion from behind, revisit the 2019 exhibition Backside at the Musée Bourdelle, Paris, curated by Alexandre Samson.
Before its unexpected return, Acne Paper’s past themes are reimagined by the South African art photographer in a series of self-portraits in Paris.
At the Russian Federation Pavilion in Venice, the American writer and artist Alice Bucknell’s film Swamp City imagines the Florida Everglades as a luxury nature resort for high-tech eco-tourism in a near future reality of severe climate disruption.