The enduring myth of the fashion photograph is a tempting pretence – that impossible conflation of genetic perfection, artful indifference, and meticulously crafted couture draped just so over the frames of lanky young things. The reality, of course, is a tad more involved, the final image merely a captured moment amidst a highly choreographed bit of theatre.

Fashion in the Mirror, London

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Fashion in the Mirror at the Photographers’ Gallery in London deconstructs the illusion. The sight of lighting equipment and crew in the ocean behind a posing bikini-clad swimmer, or an art director stepping into frame to touch up a model’s makeup is sobering, cheeky and wonderfully fascinating – a look not only at the staged artificiality of perfection but also at the artistic process behind some of the biggest names in modern commercial photography.
The show features work from the 1940s to now by twenty-one top international names, including Richard Avedon, Terence Donovan, Nick Knight, Helmut Newton, Juergen Teller, Mario Testino and Jonathan de Villiers. Many of the shots capture the actual photographers at work, doubly revealing as reflective self-portraits, and a playful reminder that the effortless perfection of fashion photography is neither effortless nor perfect.