Back in January I wrote two articles for the ambitious and incredibly well designed Chinese fashion publication I.T Post. Here's the first. I hope you'll enjoy reading it! Thank you Kwannam for your constant enthusiasm...
The cover and article
My wall of David Hamilton photos at home
I grew up in a house filled with books. Thousands of them. From English and French masterpieces, cult literature, scabrous and absurdly funny crime novels by San-Antonio to a substantial collection of art publications. Introduced to the pleasures of reading at a young age, my parents’ undeniable obsessiveness with books added an essential extra dimension to my life. They brought home their boundless interests in the shape of hardcovers, always pushing the envelope and fuelling my imagination. The experience was magical and I spent hours concentrating with uncontrolled enthusiasm on narratives and photography until I discovered the fresh intensities of boys, love, music and late adolescence mysteriously took over. Since then, and in the course of a long reading vocation, books have tended to come and go. I look back at the little notes I used to keep and I’m surprised at the exhilaration I once felt for books I don’t remember owning or enjoying. And then there are the ones that stay forever. The ones that occupy a central position, the ones that have influenced you, taken you on a sentimental journey and continue to provide enchanting and emotional moments. They have the capacity to express something that speaks to your soul and are immensely powerful.
Time always passes quickly when I’m at my parents’ home: their vast collection of books is such a wonderful mixture of new, obscure and unexpected ideas. A fusion of literature, poetry, photography, painting, travel writing encapsulating who they are today. Sometimes, when I feel that words are not enough, I like to turn to photography, a form of expression for which I have a tremendous appetite. I remember being 13 and discovering a David Hamilton book in our living room. It was tightly squeezed between a limited edition Joan Miró and a pile of old seventies Paris Match magazines. I had found a photographer who I thought was startlingly free from convention and turned his back on modernity to play with romantic beliefs, eroticism, sensuality and nudity. I was fascinated. His intriguing optical and photographic compositions whispered tenderly in my ear. The girls, his muses, captivated me. He offered a firework of exciting, lyrical and whimsical portraits and gave me access to a world of slightly out of focus and soft-toned imaginary characters far from reality. I used to be a very shy girl growing up and his photographs just took me to this fantasy place where unconventionally and classically beautiful teenage girls could live innocently in bohemian settings. The intimacy and various stages of undress only added a necessary frisson. I just fell in love with David Hamilton’s work and was immediately converted. It was a revelation and I saw nothing crude, pornographic or vulgar in his images, only compelling and intensely moving portraits in caressing pools of light. Years have passed and I now have my own collection of his exquisite works and films put together with passion. His genius and purpose has been a source of inspiration for many fashion photographers today but none of them have managed to reach such thrilling qualities. I often find their ambition is slightly wrong, embracing cheap muted pastel hues and natural lighting but unable to disguise their creaking lack of creativity. It’s the original stuff that gives me consistent pleasure. Delicate and elegant beyond belief. I keep telling friends that he has created a language that should be recognized as contemporary and classic. A genuine and compelling influence on the world of fashion. His deliberately blurred scenes and pale colours used to heighten the emotional effect are hugely seductive and have been copied again and again by fashion photographers. It’s certainly not a complete coincidence that echoes of his style can be found in some of my favourite fashion stories. Hamilton’s rigorous control of his material and the eerily perfect models and settings represent an aesthetic formula that will continue to play a significant role in the history of fashion. It is timeless and still manages to steer away from predictability.
I know that in 20 years time I will look at David Hamilton’s books and know that he encapsulated a big part of my overwhelming infatuation with fashion photography. The very vagueness of his imagery will always tell me something uniquely accurate about those times, a concrete thought about escapism with its incomparable naturalness and unsettling imagery. The perfect fusion of innocence, soft provocation, intriguing situations and a beautiful kaleidoscope of slow gentle movements, costumes and misty effects. A hypnotic ritual.