Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Corinne Day and the fashion world

Her photographs weren’t always the easiest to look at but she was admired by many including myself for changing the face of fashion photography forever in the early 90s.
Corinne Day, who has been suffering from a second brain tumour for the last two years, died on Friday, August 27 2010. She will always be remembered for launching the career of Kate Moss with her iconic photoshoot for the British magazine, The Face (July, 1990).

This shoot was just the start of things to come; Corinne pioneered a new style of photography that was later referred to as the ‘waif’ look or ‘heroin chic’ fashion’s equivalent to Seattle’s grunge. Corinne striped the models of the 80s excess. She wanted to remove the overdone glamour and glossiness in favour of a more natural, raw and honest image.

However this so-called grunge aesthetic that launched her career was also the cause of her fall out with the industry. In 1993 when Vogue came calling Day shot Moss in an underwear story appearing un-groomed un-styled and even hung over in a grotty looking bedsit.

The shoot caused such an outrage that her critics blamed her for promoting anorexia or drug use. Worse Marcelle D'Argy Smith, then editor of Cosmopolitan, even said: "The pictures are hideous and tragic. I believe they can only appeal to the paedophile market." Day quickly became disenchanted with the fashion industry. She was moving towards a more gritty reportage photography which I at times found uncomfortable to look at with images of drug abuse and bloodied knickers.

After a 10 year absence Day had a welcome return to the fashion world. With age and time both she and the controversy mellowed and she was back working for British Vogue with her muse Moss. As well as shooting for other fashion magazines like Italian and Japanese Vogue, Day also had exhibitions all over the world including the Saatchi Gallery, Whitney Museum in New York, Victoria & Albert, the National Portrait Gallery and Tate Modern to name but a few.

Many photographers and fashion magazines have Day to thank for bringing us an alternative view of fashion which included imperfect models shot with only natural light. Bringing an element of realness to an otherwise staged and airbrushed to perfection culture. Day once said "Photography is getting as close as you can to real life, showing us things we don't normally see. These are people's most intimate moments, and sometimes intimacy is sad."

Corinne Day
Rest in peace