Fashion photography and architecture
We cannot escape fashion, and we cannot do without architecture. We tailor to both. We all wear fashion and everyone needs architecture as a place to work or to live in. Fashion, architecture and design stay with us throughout our lives. They express an awareness of life, they are part of our culture and also play an important role as an economic factor.
Anja Schlamann, fashion collection of Johanna Lutz: submarine bunker Bremen. | © Anja Schlamann
Richard Huelsenbeck, a Dada poet and psychoanalyst, took up these closely linked phenomena in his aesthetic account of the Weimar Republic: “The sleek, swift, no-fuss appearance of the modern women finds adequate comparisons in modern architecture.“ Architecture also experienced the shedding of cladding, facades were ripped out and replaced with spacious glass fronts that allowed light and air to flush into the apartments. The New Building movement (Neues Bauen) of the nineteen twenties was functional, cubic, dynamic, and the fashion style of the time was no different.
“Herrenfahrerin” in front of the Le Corbusier-building at the Stuttgart Weissenhofsiedlung, 1927 | © Mercedes-Benz Classic One of the first pictures to highlight this parallelism as the new lifestyle was an advertisement for Mercedes Benz, taken in 1927 in the Weissenhof Estate of the Deutsche Werkbund exhibition in Stuttgart. To represent this awakening of modernism the New Woman is depicted as a “lady driver“ in front of the house built by avant-garde architect Le Corbusier.
Light, material and form of the built environment as a new lookFashion photography in the nineteen thirties discovered architecture and urbanity as a space that allows a more free and more dramatic fashion presentation. Light, material and form of the built environment were set against or blended with the fashion language and the pose of the models. Sometimes the fashion designers and photographers use architecture as a backdrop for a story, sometimes as a specific location for projecting a new look, the latest collection, new colours and materials.
Surreal image worldsF.C. Gundlach, fashion photography in front of the Pyramids of Gizeh, 1966 | © Stiftung F.C. Gundlach German fashion photography was launched into the professional league in the nineteen sixties and seventies, with the work of Regina Relang, Walde Huth and F.C. (Franz Christian) Gundlach. Location and look were combined to create inseparable, often surreal image worlds.
Legendary photos are the swimware shoots of F.C. Gundlach taken in the desert, in front of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, or a photo series set alongside the buildings designed by Oscar Niemeyer in Brasilia. Regina Relang did not expect her models to perform in such far-off locations, but the outfits she presented were indeed as if from another planet.
Regina Relang, fashion photography in front of the “Atomei” in Garching near Munich, 1962 | Photo: Münchner Stadtmuseum
Shooting starsAnja Schlamann, fashion collection of Johanna Lutz: Schaubühne Lindenfels | © Anja Schlamann The shooting of the Jobis coat collection in 1963 was staged by Regina Relang as a female Apollo mission with moon walk, set alongside the Atomic Egg nuclear reactor in Garching/Munich, designed by Gerhard Weber and Wolfgang Ende in 1957. With a slight touch or irony, futuristic architecture and technical innovation meet an equally purist interpretation of the female figure and feminine attitude. The elegant double-breasted coat resembles an encasement with a soft and natural surface of wool that stands out in contrast to the metal shell of the architectural design. Fur hat and leather gloves further distinguish the elegant feminine look from the surrounding environment that is dominated by technology. The bounce into modernity, so elegantly presented by this flowing architectural style, like a spaceship that has just landed, is not shared by the woman who is cautiously moving forward. With a lack of clear direction.
Subtle self-representationAnja Schlamann, fashion collection of Johanna Lutz: MAK Köln | © Anja Schlamann The subtle relationship between people, space, time and fashion depicted by Regina Relang is also a characteristic feature of the series of fashion shots by Cologne-based architect and photographer Anja Schlamann.
She takes a very personal and individual approach, very different to that of overly groomed and hyper-aesthetic advertising and fashion photography. In the series “Sie” - or “She” – produced over a period of three years, Anja Schlamann depicts fashion in unusual and spectacular spaces that are otherwise seldom seen. Here she blurs the borders between art, fashion and architectural photography. The series “Sie” shows Anja Schlamann at locations she has chosen herself, in self-produced situations and in personally selected designs of the Cologne-based fashion designer Johanna Lutz. Anja Schlamann has the trained eye of a creative designer, one that is based on the concept that classic beauty is a matter of proportions and material.
Rebellion against standard situationsAnja Schlamann, fashion collection of Johanna Lutz: Baths of Hürth | © Anja Schlamann With her creative and artistic images Anja Schlamann is not just rebelling against the standard modelling role and its posing situations. She poses herself, in huge, hall-like underground rooms, in water storage tanks, unused subway stations, derelict swimming baths, churches, stairwells or bunkers. Her feet both firmly on the ground, steady and firm like the architecture around her. She chooses the position in which to pose, as a function of the proportions, the dimensions of the room and the light. The creative compositions of fashion designer Johanna Lutz are wraparound dresses, blouses, trousers, coats and accessories. These are comfortable, wearable and urban, and are staged in a way to catch the atmosphere of the room, underscoring the clear and confident posture of the artist and photographer.
Anja Schlamann, fashion collection of Johanna Lutz: reservoir Dortmund | © Anja Schlamann
A level playing field for designed formAnja Schlamann, fashion collection of Johanna Lutz: service center for students Braunschweig | © Anja Schlamann Whether architecture, fashion or photography, in her compositions Anja Schlamann attaches equal importance to every designed form. The beauty of architecture, also unused architecture, and rooms left without purpose are turned into a stage for fashion. A fashion style that wants to forget about tight waistlines, one that is natural and suitable for everyday wear, and in a language that is quiet and reserved. A trend that is also catching on in contemporary architecture and in the field of design.
Many thanks to the Münchner Stadtmuseum and the Stiftung F.C. Gundlach for providing photographs.