A then-unknown Kate Moss, shot by Corinne Day for The Face in 1990. Image copyright Corinne Day, courtesy Gimpel Fils Gallery.
Corinne Day, one-time enfant terrible of British fashion photography, died on 27 August after a long illness.
Day shot to fame in 1990 with a fashion story for The Face that featured the then-unknown young model Kate Moss. A deliberate step away from the high-octane glamour of the 1980s photography and Amazonian models such as Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista, it kick-started the trend for ‘grunge’ fashion and photography that opened the doors to shooters such as Juergen Teller and David Sims.
But grunge photogaphy soon became mired in controversy, blamed for glamorising drug abuse and for turning a generation of women into anorexics. In 1993 Day shot a lingerie shoot for British Vogue with Moss in the model’s apartment, and found herseslf accused of promoting paedophilia (despite the fact that Moss was 18 years old). Soon after even then-US President Bill Clinton weighed in against ‘heroine chic’. Moss was advised not to work with Day again, despite the pair's close friendship, and Day retreated from fashion photography.
She focused on other projects instead, shooting the cover for Moby’s 1999 album Play and helping her boyfriend Mark Szaszy shoot music videos. Day also embarked on an extensive personal project: a no-holds-barred, intimate depiction of herself and her friends - particularly her close friend Tara - that included images of drug abuse, bloodied knickers and her own hospitalisation after she was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 1996. This work, which spanned seven years of Day's life, was published as Corinne Day: Diary and was exhibited at The Photographers' Gallery in 2000.
Diary marked a turning point in Day’s career, as from that point on her work was accepted into the elite of the fine art world. Her images were included in shows such as Imperfect Beauty, curated by Charlotte Cotton at London's Victoria and Albert Museum in 2000, and The Face of Fashion at the National Portrait Gallery in 2007. Day was commissioned to shoot an image for the NPG show that would be added to its permanent collection — the only photographer ever asked to do so. She opted to shoot her original muse, Kate Moss, depicting the model in a series of images taken over the course of a conversation. Day also returned to fashion photography in 2000, shooting regularly for British, Italian and Japanese Vogue.
BJP’s Diane Smyth interviewed Day in 2008, for an article published in American magazine PDN. Click here to read more.
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