Fashion and Textile Museum to stage Louise Dahl-Wolfe retrospective

London’s Fashion and Textile Museum is planning to stage the first retrospective of American fashion photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe to be held in the UK, opening 20 October 2017.


Textile and Fashion Museum

Born in 1895, Louise Dahl-Wolfe is considered one of the most important women photographers of the 20th century, with her work in the thirties, forties and fifties influencing some of the world’s most celebrated fashion photographers such as Richard Avedon and Irving Penn.

Her informal and contemporary approach to fashion will be explored in the new exhibition, showcasing over 100 photographs across three decades from 1931 to 1959 and presenting the work of couture designers Chanel, Balenciaga and Dior, as well as American fashion innovators Claire McCardell and Clare Potter.

The exhibition will also present a significant body of portraiture by Dahl-Wolfe. The images capture famous figures from the period such as Joan Cocteau, Bette Davis, Orson Wells and Vivien Leigh.


Suzy Parker by the Seine, Costume by Balenciaga,1953.Photograph by Louise Dahl-Wolfe - © 1989 Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents.

Highlights include work from Dahl-Wolfe’s 22 year period as the leading contributor to Harper’s Bazaar. She worked with editor Carmel Snow, legendary fashion director Diana Vreeland and designer Alexey Brodovitch in the creation of 86 covers, 600 colour plates and over 2,000 black-and-white photographs. A particularly important moment in her career was her cover shoot for the March 1943 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, which is credited with discovering Lauren Bacall and leading to her film career in Hollywood.

Dahl-Wolfe pioneered the use of colour and daylight in fashion photography, shooting on location and outdoors. She travelled to the then exotic locales of Tunisia, Cuba, South America, Spain and Mexico to capture fashion against a fresh backdrop.

“Her fashion pictures are the definition of elegance and beauty. They present an aspirational portrait of the mid-century woman as she newly wished to be: independent, self-assured and in control of her own destiny. ‘Louise Dahl Wolfe: A Style of Her Own’ highlights the power of photography and magazines to change people’s perception of what they can do and who they might become,” says Celia Joicey, head of the Fashion and Textile Museum.

The exhibition will be at the London Fashion and Textile Museum from 20 October 2017 until 21 January 2018.

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