The New Fashion Eye books: Japan and Orient Express
Each album highlights a city, a region or a country through the gaze of a fashion photographer.
With the Fashion Eye series, Louis Vuitton’s aim is to publish a broad compendium of perspectives, one that shifts with the destinations, including urban panoramas and natural landscapes, scenes of local life, and more contemplative work, with images in color and/or black and white. Each book in the series features an ample selection of large-format photographs, accompanied by biographical information and an interview with the photographer or a critical essay.
The series gives rise to an unprecedented dialogue between emerging talents, seasoned photographers, and fashion photography legends. It confronts contemporary creation with little-known archival treasures to create a collection of invaluable reference works, as much in terms of its approach as its aesthetics.
Orient Express by Sarah Moon
Aboard the world’s most famous train, French photographer Sarah Moon revisits fanciful memories. From Paris to Istanbul, landscapes roll by and the light changes constantly, while rails, overhead power lines, and signaling panels trace the route leading to the shores of the Bosporus. Ensconced in an Orient Express salon car, its paneled decor recreating the luxury of days gone by, Suzanne, the photographer’s model and loyal heroine, appears as if outside time. An exotic passenger without luggage, from one image to the next she reflects the “lines of flight,” the text that parses and punctuates this metaphoric voyage to the lyrical heart of a railway experience like no other.
Although pioneering fashion photographer Baron Adolphe de Meyer destroyed much of his body of work, a number of images survive from his long trip through Asia, including rare glimpses of a fascinating and still inscrutable island empire. In 1900, de Meyer’s penchant for this nation’s aesthetics prompted him to travel to Meiji-era Japan. Site after site, from the temples in the former imperial capital Kyoto and the giant statues of Buddha, especially the one in Nara, to the traditional gates (torii) marking the entrance to Shinto shrines in Nikko and Ueno Park in Tokyo, he captures the imperious beauty of natural surroundings revered by the Japanese people, as well as Japan’s architectural and artistic treasures. His breathtakingly sensitive vision is far removed from the popular japonaiseries of his time.
Finnish photographer Osma Harvilahti was born in Helsinki in 1983. Emerging from his direct experience of the world, Harvilahti’s photographs have always been fundamentally documentary in nature, culled with spontaneity and nuance from the world around him. Making personal projects about the places he visits and the people he encounters along the way, he plucks out the most intimate and vivid details of his surroundings to fix within the frame. What began as an early interest in street photography, and a penchant for the pure lines and formal order of the Bauhaus movement, slowly evolved into a sensitivity towards curating and capturing the compositions of everyday phenomena.
Like the witty, poignant images of the mundane in the work of Roe Ethridge, Luigi Ghirri and other photographers before him, Harvilahti has honed a brightly coloured, clean and graphic aesthetic that interrogates pattern, shadow, form and surface with aching honesty.
George Allen Aarons was born in New York City on October 29, 1916. Given the nickname “Slim” because he was thin and very tall (about 6’ 4” or 1.94 m), he enlisted in the US Army at the age of 18, and was assigned to the division responsible for the production and distribution of photographs depicting military life and operations. In the early days of WWII, he was posted at the prestigious West Point military academy to photograph troop maneuvers.
While there, Slim was introduced to the Hollywood director Frank Capra, who was on location making a film for the war effort and also recruiting journalists to cover the war in Europe.
On the island of gods, the little nothings of everyday life are brought to the fore in this "photographic album". Quentin de Briey allows chance to be his guide, carried away by the purring of motorcycle engines, the smiles of strangers, the stalls selling durian and the vibrations in the air. He comes across many men – easy-going, proud or amused – occasionally with their fighting cocks in tow. Making his way along trails impregnated with volcanic energy, luxurious vegetation and steeply terraced rice fields compete for the photographer’s attention. It is at the margins of an enchanted vision and a tourist utopia that de Briey finds his place. All of the photographs reproduced in this book were taken for the most part in Bali, with a few in Lombok and on the Gili islands.
From his early career as a professional skateboarder, Quentin de Briey learned spontaneity. Side-lined by an injury, he decided to devote himself completely to photography. A native of Belgium, de Briey is based in Barcelona and often divides his time between Paris and New York. He works mainly in fashion and for luxury brands. His work is also featured regularly in a number of publications, such as The Sunday Times Magazine and the various editions of Vogue. Yvon Lambert has published several of his books, including Ladakh. His eclectic body of work ranges from candid portraits to glimpses of dishevelled bedrooms and currents of street culture, frequently in sun-saturated images, because he favours silver film. De Briey’s trademark is an instinctive photography, with an ineffable natural charm.
Through Paul Rousteau’s lens, the city at the western end of Lake Geneva’s vast blue expanse takes on warmer colours. The beige-hued building facades, the tranquillity of the Bains des Pâquis pier, the Rhône and the Alps appear in a new light. A gentleness reminiscent of the Mediterranean dolce vita floats over the city’s harbour. A group of nude and melancholy female bathers – in this case his models are statues – rounds out the scene. Recalling his teenage love for a girl from Geneva, Rousteau revisits the places where his passion burned. He loses and finds himself anew. His random strolls around the city lead him down narrow streets to discover intimate nooks and crannies. This meditative and carnal quest gives him entrée to a sensual and voluptuous Geneva. We thus come to understand why Alexandre Dumas compared the city to a languid "odalisque".
Paul Rousteau’s vivid style invites us to escape through the mirror of appearances. Partial to bright and soft colours, enamoured of impressionist and fauvist modes, this Paris-based photographer often describes himself as an idle painter, with a preference for artists who steer clear of the real. His photographs, imbued with an immaterial quality – if such a thing can be said to exist – flirt with the intangible. Often blurry and overexposed, they catch our eye with their luminous washes of colour. Rousteau studied at the Vevey School of Photography in Switzerland. Ranging from fine arts to fashion, still life to travel, his work has been featured in numerous magazines, including The New Yorker. His roster of clients includes brands such as agnès b. and Diptyque. In 2016, his work was shown at the Rencontres d’Arles photography festival and at the galerie du jour agnès b. during Paris Photo.
Eurasia, with the incredible variety of its landscapes and landforms, has long been a magnet for intrepid travellers, and not least among them Kishin Shinoyama. From Japan’s ancient capital Nara to lands in the West, the Tokyo-born photographer has navigated a labyrinth of routes. The images in this book, selected from those in the eight volumes he published in 1981 and 1982, tell us how people live. A valiant trencherman, Shinoyama enjoys market scenes, stalls brimming over with fresh foods. He relishes many a good meal, but without neglecting the places of worship dotting the Silk Road. Thanks to the interconnections between civilisations along its routes, religious beliefs, whether originating in Buddhism, Islam or Christianity, endure. This volume also aims to give glimpses of sites now wiped off the map due to the violence of wars and fanaticism. Providing an invaluable record of treasures like the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan, the ancient city of Palmyra or the souks of Aleppo in Syria, a number of these photographs are now vestiges of a time gone by.
As exemplified by 28 Girls, his iconic compendium published in 1968, Kishin Shinoyama’s stylised approach has revolutionised our concept of the female nude. Feminine beauty, captured in images melding body and space, has been the fulcrum of his career. His work for leading fashion magazines and brands, his high-profile advertising campaigns, not to mention his portraits, including a series of photographs of Yoko Ono and John Lennon, have made him famous. Across his vast range, he also delights in revealing the interiors of well-known artists, such as Man Ray’s studio in Paris, the homes of Luchino Visconti and Yukio Mishima, and Balthus’s chalet in Rossinière, Switzerland. From New York to Paris, Florence to Hawaii, Australia to Brazil, his wandering spirit has taken him round the world. To this day, his multifaceted work is driven by the joy of capturing a fragment of eternity. His photographs convey palpable sensations.
Seen through the eyes of Oliviero Toscani, the intricate installation created by the internationally renowned painter and sculptor Alberto Burri takes on a new life. This work partially covering the ruins of Gibellina, a Sicilian town devastated by a massive earthquake in 1968, here becomes a fascinating photographic subject. Traced with a network of lacerations to commemorate the disfiguring tragedy, this expanse of blindingly white concrete slabs, now degraded by erosion, undergoes a metamorphosis. Using high-angle, close-up and wide-angle shots, Toscani adds his own conceptual inscriptions to this cenotaph subjugated by the sun. The work required considerable technical means, including the use of a drone and telephoto lens. Whether just above the surface or from a great height, his pictorial approach creates compositions verging on abstraction.
An art director, influencer, and master provocateur known around the world, the Tuscany-based photographer Oliviero Toscani never shies away from controversy. He has made headlines with his many United Colors of Benetton advertising campaigns as well as a shock campaign raising awareness about the ravages of anorexia. Son of the first photojournalist at the leading Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, this steely-eyed firebrand lends his support to numerous humanitarian causes. An exceptional colourist and a master at framing and composition, Toscani points and shoots with a commitment unlike that of any other photographer. Continuing today to work for international magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and Elle, he remains a renegade, challenging rules and shattering the status quo. In 2015, his travelling exhibition Anti-clichés for the ready-to-wear label Balsamik cast women truly representative of its clientele, rather than agency models.
In this land of Cyrus and Zarathustra, Harley Weir falls under the spell of the country’s beauty and the extraordinary hospitality of its people. The product of nuanced observation, her images elucidate the matter of emotion. They require no commentary. She reinvents Persian miniatures and, by moving in close, attempts to make sense of the world. Seemingly innocuous details, fabric, scarves, veils and faces in their naked truth illuminate her work here. Between ghostly shadows and fulgent light, in this enigmatic Iran, with its rich culture developed over thousands of years, Weir delicately grasps the poetry of shape and form.
Discovered on the web through her blog, the self-taught British photographer Harley Weir is upending fashion. Under her gaze, nothing is taboo. Brilliant and audacious without impudence, she is shifting the frontiers of convention. Her images, always beautiful and sometimes disturbing, have seduced brands such as Balenciaga, Stella McCartney and Calvin Klein. But she is not focused uniquely on the sophisticated aspects of femininity. With feverish curiosity, she often ventures off the beaten track, for example to shed light on the multitudes living in makeshift homes, such as those at the sprawling “Jungle” migrant camp in Calais. With the designer Grace Wales Bonner, winner of the 2016 LVMH Prize, she has made two films, the first about professional wrestlers in Senegal and the second taking the pair to India for a lyrical portrait of masculinity.