Louise Dahl-Wolfe: The pioneering photographer who changed fashion
"Suzy Parker by the Seine, Costume by Balenciaga" (1953) by Louise Dahl-Wolfe
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As a pioneer of her profession, photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe was the epitome of an independent postwar woman. But it wasn’t only her achievements that helped redefine female empowerment. It was also her genre-defining images.
While working for Harper’s Bazaar from 1936 to 1958, Dahl-Wolfe spearheaded a new era of fashion photography that focused on assertive, aspirational women. In an era of formal society portraits, the American photographer captured models in casual – and often sun-drenched – outdoor settings.
Her quirky and candid images had a lasting impact on the fashion industry, according to Dennis Nothdruft, curator of a new exhibition on Dahl-Wolfe’s work at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London.
“She had a real ability to capture people’s essences in an informal setting,” he said in a phone interview. “She really appreciated how clothes react and move on a body, rather than just on stationary figures in a studio somewhere.
“Along with Vreeland and Snow, Dahl-Wolfe really put Harper’s Bazaar at the forefront of fashion,” Nothdruft said. “She was a distinctive photographer of the time.”
Although best known for fashion photography, Dahl-Wolfe also redefined the celebrity portrait, shooting the likes of Edward Hopper, Orson Welles and W.H. Auden. Her portraiture features among more than 100 photos in the exhibition “Louise Dahl–Wolfe: A Style of Her Own,” the first major retrospective of her work to take place in the UK
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