New York Fashion Week gives 32 top photographers showcase for their work
Moncler's Maya duvet jacket the common thread in exhibition
Beyond the customary hectic schedule of runway shows, New York fashion week has morphed into a cross-cultural event that encompasses must-attend parties, screenings, book launches, charity events and art exhibitions. Of the latter, Moncler's "Art for Love" show, an invitation-only photography exhibition that took place at the New York Public Library on September 11, was one of the most hotly anticipated.
Fashion and photography are, of course, easy bedfellows, but the hook for the Art for Love exhibition is the gathering together of 32 of the world's best photographers in one show, a rare feat not only in terms of scale but subject matter, too.
The show is curated by revered French creative director Fabien Baron, who formerly worked at French Vogue under Carine Roitfeld and had a stint at Interview magazine.
Baron's powers of persuasion convinced some of the busiest and most demanding talents in the business - including Annie Leibovitz, David Bailey, Steven Meisel, Patrick Demarchelier and Terry Richardson - to each offer an image.
"If you want to see what the top photographers are doing today, all of them together in one place: it's all right here in more than 30 distinct images," says Baron. "The sheer number of these world-renowned talents, the absolute best in their class, is as humbling as it is spectacular."
Each was tasked with interpreting the theme of the "strength and beauty" of love, with the incorporation of Moncler's Maya duvet jacket, one of the brand's most iconic products from the 1950s, as the one consistent element in the 32 images. With that one caveat the photographers were free to interpret the compositions as they wished with little direction from Baron.
"As the curator, I believe in letting these masters follow their own unique vision with as few guidelines as possible. I couldn't be happier with the results," he says.
The images vary greatly from the more classic fashion model photography of Demarchelier to creative portraiture from Mikael Jansson, and action photography from Leibovitz and Bruce Weber.
The idea for the exhibition came from Moncler owner Remo Ruffini, who says he "personally wanted this exhibition" of the world's greatest photographers exhibiting in one place.
"The show hinges on a single object, which, through the aesthetic vision, technique and creative imagination of more than 30 of the greatest photographers in the world, is interpreted according to the most diverse and contrasting sensibilities and approaches," said Ruffini on the eve of the exhibition opening.
The exhibition was held in association with Aids research charity amfAR, and it closed with a silent auction to raise funds for the charity.
Baron believes the creative industries should lead by example.
"We as an industry have come together to fight a disease that has for so long afflicted the arts. It is our responsibility to lead the cause," he said.
Some of the photographers took this association with amfAR as a jumping-off point for their photographs.
"To me, sex is the source of creativity and love is the source of life, anything that makes sexuality and love a risk or dangerous is something we have to fight. One of the biggest threats is HIV/Aids, as it is still killing innocent teenagers who are not necessarily in control of their sexuality," says Purple magazine editor Olivier Zahm. "I photographed young girls for this project because, to me, they are the ones who are more exposed to this risk."