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“Fashion photography is traditionally regarded as the lightweight end of photographic practice. Its close relationship to the economic imperatives of turnover makes the fashion photograph the transitory image par excellence.” (Rosetta Brookes, Camerawork 1980)

Fashion photography is seen by some as ephemeral and ethereal, with photographs ‘obstensibly as transitory as last years’ style or this months magazine issue’ (1979, Nancy Hall-Duncan). The content of such photographs seem far from reality; it arguable that ‘fashion photography is not necessarily for people who want to know what clothes really look like’ (pg 2, Fashion Spreads: Word & Image in Fashion Photography since 1980) The relevance of such photos as referred to numerously, as well as the contempt of high fashion held by Day. Her style has been described as neo-realist, potraying the street wise attitude of young people of her time.

Recurring ideas exist in Day’s work as well as in other media texts like The Face magazine, such as ‘post modern [notions] concerning the shift in popular consciousness from the primacy of the word to that of the image.’ (Hebdige’s analysis of The Face) Hebdige went on to explain The Face as ‘a magazine which goes out of its way every month to blur the line between politics and parody and pastiche; the street, the stage, the screen; between purity and danger; the mainstream and the ‘margins’: to flatten out the world.’

Rose 1993

After researching, I can see this quite clearly in Day’s work also. Her work contains these ideas trying to ‘flatten out the world’ concerning the ideas above. She blurs the street, stage and screen with the juxtaposition of fashion in less glamorous surroundings, on less glamorous looking people. I immediately thought of the photo taken of Rose in 1993, also blurring the lines between masculinity and femininity, in the juxtaposed fashion and use of whom Day describes an androgynous model. She blurs the line between purity and danger, with the explicit references to drugs, alcohol and and sex, and ironically her work becoming quite mainstream even though marginalized. Its to say that her anti-glamorous images became popular, unsurprisingly as trends in youth culture do the same. Hebdrige also explained how readers don’t so much a  read The Face as wander through it, emphasizing the conception of ‘style over substance’.

Day also disassociates her self with the way fashion ‘[puts] sex in the picture’ as mentioned by Foucauti. “What is at issue, briefly is…the way in which sex in ‘put into the discourse’. What is important to note about Day however, is that the way in which she uses sex in her photography is in a frank, and almost repulsive way with the voyeuristic nature of some of her photographs. Her photos aren’t as meticulously designed to allure and seduce as in fashion photography.

Day’s photographs seem to match a trend in the 1980s, described as the Thatcher years. The economic and social problems hinted at already were attached to the Prime minister at the time Margaret Thatcher, and lead to a new development in photography known as social documentary. There was an interest in the quality of life in contemporary Britain, which Day’s work seems to do also. Mentioned photographers in this style are:

  • Chris Killip
  • Graham Smith
  • John Davies
  • Martin Parr
  • Paul Graham

References:

Rose 1993, Face of Fashion, Corinne Day [online image] available from: http://www.corinneday.co.uk/exhibitions.php?action=zoom&id=180&exhibition_id=1

  • Paul Jobling (1999) Fashion Spreads: Word and Image in Fashion Photography Since 1980 Berg 1999
  • Susan Kismaric (1990) British Photography from the Thatcher Years The Museum of Modern Art 1990
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