Seeing is Believing

The fashions of Edward Steichen.

Before photography took over the pages of fashion magazines, they were filled with illustrations. American Edward Steichen, the subject of the recent exhibit, Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, the Condé Nast Years, 1923-1937 at the Musée des Beaux Arts de Québec, was one of the first to cross over from illustrator to photographer. Having bought his first camera as a student in 1895, it wasn’t until 1911, when he convinced the publisher of French magazine Art et Décoration that photographs rather than drawings would better show off the clothes, that he became one of the first fashion photographers.

After a stint in the army during the First World War, where he honed his camera skills taking shots on the front, he returned to the U.S. where he became the chief photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair. It’s this era that’s explored in the exhibit, starting with his cover illustrations and early photographs, and moving on to his Hollywood portraiture.


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