Fash­ion pho­tog­ra­phy — of all things — is what’s been keep­ing mrs. Deane from reg­u­lar post­ing for the last weeks, nay months! As some of you may know, mrs. Deane is assist­ing Mr. E. with run­ning a suc­cess­ful photo gallery in Dubai. About a year ago, Mr. E. got it into his head to curate a show with fash­ion pho­tog­ra­phy, which slowly grew and grew and grew, and which now con­sist of a jaw drop­ping 75 vin­tage and con­tem­po­rary fash­ion pho­tographs — some of which Mrs. Deane has grown to appre­ci­ate, despite her con­fessed aver­sion against any­thing fash­ion. Melvin Sokolsky’s bub­bles have always been a favorite, so when we finally secured a few items from that series, I had my own moment of glee.

Other than the Sokolsky’s, we are show­ing prints by Lil­lian Bass­man, whose work has become one of my favorites, Albert Wat­son, FC Gundlach’s Ori­en­tal series, vin­tage Nor­man Parkin­son, some wild William Klein, Elliott Erwitt, three brood­ing Sarah Moon’s,  some early color works by Erwin Blu­men­feld, who was of course much more than only a fash­ion pho­tog­ra­pher, and Frank Hor­vat, with a crazy-funny web­site of his own, called Hor­vat­land, which is truly worth a visit if you’ve never been, if only to dis­cover what wicked things he made besides the images he is mostly known for.

When some­one would have told me three years ago at the end of my self-inflicted fash­ion episode, that there would come a time when I would spend months — not weeks — work­ing on the same sub­ject, I seri­ously don’t know how incred­u­lous I would have looked. How­ever, I guess it is like one of the most impor­tant things his­tory class has ever taught me about  the Thirty Year’s War: you can always find a fas­ci­nat­ing angle to a sub­ject that does not appeal to you at first sight. I real­ize that every­one is dying to know what fas­ci­nat­ing angle mrs. deane has dis­cov­ered about fash­ion pho­tog­ra­phy, but it is way too late for bed­time sto­ries of any kind, so that will have to wait for another day.

An angle of inter­est we added with an eye on the local pub­lic in the Dubai region, is the story of Parveen Shaath, a Saudi fash­ion­ista avant la let­tre, who spent her life between fash­ion houses and her Arab clien­tele. Some pieces of her col­lec­tion, num­ber­ing more than 700 items, are on dis­play as well, along­side mate­r­ial from her per­sonal archive. As a friend of found footage, I could not but have imme­di­ate sym­pa­thy for the clumsy black and white snap­shots, stat­ing so obvi­ously what we all know: most peo­ple don’t ‘strike a pose’, how­ever fash­ion­able or expen­sive their clothes, they just wear them when eat­ing a late night ice cream, sit­ting on the edge of a foun­tain. Because there is no escape from the ordi­nar­i­ness of life, one of the most tena­cious things in this world.

Originally published in September 2010 in Mrs. Deane, a blog run by Beierle + Kei­jser, visual artists from Ger­many and Hol­land.