Diversity has never been hotter in the fashion industry. This year, more non-white, plus-sized, and transgender models have walked the runway than ever before, and a record number of black women have appeared on the covers of glossies worldwide. Alessia Glaviano, senior picture editor at Vogue Italia and director of the Photo Vogue Festival thinks we owe it to the internet. “I believe that nothing would have happened, or not this fast, in terms of inclusivity, if it wasn’t for social media,” she says. “It’s a progressive platform for talking about race, identity, sexuality, and disability.”
But diversity isn’t just a trend, it’s a reality. Years before #diversity began to take off, forward-thinking publications such as Vogue Italia were already poking holes in the industry’s representation problem, with initiatives such as the July 2008 “all black” issue. Vogue Italia is known for being adventurous, for setting a standard for cutting-edge fashion photography. Over the years has given artistic freedom to commissioned photographers such as Steve Meisel, Ellen von Unwerth and Miles Aldridge, who have shot stories unlikely to be seen elsewhere, engaging with themes such as plastic surgery and domestic violence.
“It’s been in our DNA since the beginning,” says Glaviano. “We’ve always been really engaged and committed to this part of fashion that can be very strong and influential.
“I’ve never believed in boundaries and labelling things,” she adds. “No one cares that Michelangelo was commissioned to create the Sistine Chapel. What they care about is the final result.”
Launched last year, Labs New Artists is a exhibition of up-and-coming artists at the prestigious not-for-profit gallery, which has spaces in Brooklyn and in Los Angeles. The photographers picked out aren’t represented by galleries or agencies, and are selected by a global jury of experts; this year, each juror has agreed to mentor an artist for the year following the show.
The 25 artists in the show this year are: Antone Dolezal, US; Eli Durst, US; Peyton Fulford, US; Matthew Genitempo, US; Rudi Geyser, South Africa; Li Hui, China; Andrew Jacobs, US; Brendan George Ko, Canada; Kovi Konowiecki, US; Maria Lokke, US; Daniel Jack Lyons, US; Pat Martin, US; Chase Middleton, Australia; Tyler Mitchell, US; Diego Moreno, Mexico; John Francis Peters, US; Luis Alberto Rodriguez, Germany; Scandebergs, UK; Marcus Schäfer, UK; Hugo Scott, UK; Christopher Smith, South Africa; Renate Ariadne Van Der Togt, UK; Drew Vickers, US; Juyan Wang, UK; and Logan White, US.
“The whole jury was in agreement that Eva has a very strong vision and that her work is characterised by a consistency both in aesthetic and content, since the concepts explored are the hot topics of our contemporary society,” says Alessia Glaviano, senior photo editor on Vogue Italia and member of the Hyères Festival photography jury this year – which has awarded the grand prix to Eva O’Leary. The New York-based photographer has won with a series called Spitting Image, which shows American girls aged 11 to 14 photographed while looking at themselves in a mirror. A project involving both photographs and videos, Spitting Image shows both the girls’ discomfort with being put in front of the lens, and the ways in which they – and others – present themselves for the camera.
It’s one of the most interesting prizes for emerging photography, with previous winners including Sølve Sundsbo, Anouk Kruithof, and Lorenzo Vitturi – it’s the Grand prix du jury photographie at the International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories in Hyères and the 2018 finalists are: Eva O’Leary (Ireland, USA), Teresa Eng (Canada), Pascale Arnaud (France), Laetitia Bica (Belgium), Sarah Mei Herman (Netherlands), Allyssa Heuse (Philippines, France), Jaakko Kahilaniemi (Finland), Csilla Klenyánszki (Hungary), Sanna Lehto (Finland), and Aurélie Scouarnec (France). The ten shortlisted photographers will present their work at a group show at the Villa Noailles from 26 April-27 May; the winner will be announced during the festival, which takes place from 26-30 April.
The founder and director of the African Artists’ Foundation and curator of this year’s Lagos Photo picks out his top books, exhibitions and Instagram feeds of 2017
“The first time my American agent came here, she said ‘I can’t believe you do all these pictures in this little room’,” laughs Paolo Roversi as he looks around the modest space he’s used as his studio for more than three decades. The Italian remains one of the world’s most sought-after fashion photographers, having forged his reputation during the mid-1980s shooting inspired catalogues for designers such as Comme des Garçons and Yohji Yamamoto, in an age when creatives were given unparalleled freedom of expression. Yet his studio is just a room in an unremarkable building in a nondescript arrondissement of southern Paris, furnished with battered chairs and old blankets. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
“The main issues in fashion currently are gender and identity, and a more inclusive image of beauty,” says Alessia Glaviano. “It partially comes from Instagram – Instagram has made a big change.” It’s forward-thinking comment for someone known for her work on world-famous print magazine Vogue Italia, but then Glaviano’s also known for pushing the boundaries. In addition to being senior photo editor on Vogue Italia, she’s web editor of vogue.it, and she’s also responsible for PhotoVogue – a curated online platform on which emerging photographers can submit their work. And in addition she’s director of the Photo Vogue Festival, the first-ever international festival of fashion photography, which is now back for the second time in Milan. “Well it went very well last year,” she says. “So here we are again.” Then there’s Vogue Italia itself. A very different beast to its more mainstream counterparts in the US and elsewhere, it sets the standard for cutting-edge fashion photography. It’s known for its adventurous and sometimes dark imagery, giving photographers such as Steve Meisel, Miles Aldridge, Ellen von Unwerth, …