PDN Photo of the Day

Deborah Turbeville’s Dark View of Fashion

In more than two dozen fashion prints and collages made by Deborah Turbeville between 1974 and 1982, on view at Deborah Bell Photographs in New York City until January 28, clothes are an afterthought. In images made for Vogue Italia or published in her 1978 book Wallflower, Turbeville’s distinctly brooding but romantic approach covers a range of subjects. There is designer Betsey Johnson striding through Chinatown, and fashion editor Diana Vreeland splintered into at multi-shot photomontage. Women appear in spooky woods and dark interiors. There is an image from her famous 1975 Vogue shoot in the crumbling Asser Levy Bathhouse, and many examples of her distinctive rough collages, full of handmade paper and pins.

In her 1979 book The History of Fashion Photography, Nancy Hall-Duncan describes Turbeville’s work as “subordinating the fashion itself and venturing into a vague borderline area between clarity and confusion.” In doing so, she created images that have outlived the fashion they were made to record.

Related Stories:
A Crumbling Patina on Haute Couture
Why not become a photographer, Lillian?
Obituary: Deborah Turbeville, Pioneering Fashion Photographer (For PDN Subscribers; login required)

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