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A FOR ART- Icons of Style- A Century of Fashion Photography- A MUST SEE at the Getty Center

A for Art



Leticia Marie Sanchez

June 26–October 21, 2018

Icons of Style at the Getty is NOT-TO-BE MISSED for a myriad of reasons.

Firstly, the presentation itself is visually compelling. Iconographic fashion photography surround dynamic costumes ranging from Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Madeleine Vionnet, Madame Grès, Issey Miyake, and Alexander McQueen.

Secondly, and more importantly, this exhibit is the first of its kind.


Photo Left: Sarah Moon, 1941, Sveta for Hussein Chalayan, 2000; Carbon print; 2011.52; 57.2 × 43.4 cm (22 1/2 × 17 1/16 in.) Copyright:© Sarah Moon

Historically, museums have not actively collected fashion photography because the medium has been viewed as undeserving of the capital letter A for Art bestowed upon portraiture, landscape, and abstraction. Even within the genre of photography itself, fashion photography has often been deemed second rate. Although MOMA established a curatorial department dedicated to photography in 1940, a clear hierarchy conferred higher status to black and white fine art photographs over photographs created for commercial purposes like fashion photography.

The exhibit at the Getty, therefore, is a watershed moment for fashion photography.

In 2010, Curator Paul Martineau began working to augment the museums collection in this genre, and with the museum added seventy photographs by 25 makers to the permanent collection.Icons of Style showcases the work of more than 80 photographers, illustrating stylistic and technological evolutions. In the accompanying catalogue Paul Martineau explains that, “few museums have dedicated the time and resources necessary to pursue fashion photography in such a strategic and committed manner.”

Dior Dress

In addition to the works held by the Getty, lenders to the exhibition include: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. LACMA provided costumes by designers from Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel to Alexander McQueen.

Photo Left: House of Dior, Christian Dior, Women’s Dress “Abandon” Fall/Winter 1948;© Los Angeles Museum of Art, Museum Associates, LACMA

So, what distinguishes a simple fashion advertisement to a work deemed worthy for the hallowed halls of a museum? In his introduction to the exhibit catalogue, Paul Martineau reveals his litmus test of what elevates a work to the capital A of Art.” At least part of the answer lies in the ability of a fashion photograph to be a reflection of two or more worlds: the perfect world inside the frame- the place where youth, beauty, and luxury reign supreme- and the harsh realities of the world outside it. The best fashion photographs can remind us of other works of art or expand the boundaries of the genre, redefining what a fashion photograph is supposed to be.”

The exhibition divides the period of fashion photography into distinct eras:

“From Contrivance to Naturalism  1911-1929

“Style in the Face of a Crisis” 1930-1946

“Letting the Skirts Down” 1947-1969

“From Rebellion to Seduction” 1970-1989

“Ye Fakers: Realism and Fantasy” 1990-2011

 Prior to checking out the exhibit, here’s a primer on the various eras you will be viewing:

“From Contrivance to Naturalism” 1911-1929

Baron Adolf De MeyerMartineau selected 1911 as the starting point of the exhibit because that the year that Edward Steichen (1879-1973) was challenged to create the first “artistic” fashion photograph, of gowns by the French couturier Paul Poiret.

For us today the photograph is often the first window into fashion, so it is surprising to learn that up until the 1930’s the fashion photograph was still a fledging, emerging to compete with drawing. In fact, in the exhibit catalogue, Anne Mc Cauley reveals that as late as 1930 a series of articles debated the still revolutionary notion: “Will photography supplement or supplant line drawings in department store advertising?”” (Icons of Style, 29) Drawing embodied the idea of a dress, while a photograph recorded a specific, completed dress.

The idea of “retouching” also harkens back to this time period.  The notion seems so contemporary, linked in our mind with filters and I-Phones. Yet, during this era, photographer Baron De Meyer played with a softer, blurred focus focus, which became his signature style, a photographic chiaroscuro.

As an illustration of this technique, Rita De Acosta Lydig by Baron Adolf de Meyer.

Rita de Acosta Lydig. negative 1913; print 1914/ Gelatin silver print.Object Number: 84.XM.471.4

Dimensions:35.4 × 27.9 cm (13 15/16 × 11 in.)

The next era covered in the exhibit is 1930-1946 “Style in the Face of Crisis.”


 During the Great Depression, fashion photography evoked a rarified fantasy world to provide viewers a form of escapism from the grim economic realities of the day. On the contrary, during World War II, fashion photography attempted to remain relevant by portraying the tenacious, hands on- attitude that helped many cope with the war. The occupation of Paris and the Nazi bombing of London by the Nazis changed the fashion landscape by turning attention to the United States, and subsequently benefiting American photographers and fashion designers.

As an example of the escapist fantasy during the Great Depression, Miss Sonia, Pajamas by Vionnet, 1931.

V Back evenings Suzy ParkerLetting the Skirts Down 1947-1969

“Dior let the skirts down, and suddenly everything was fun.”- Richard Avedon (Getty Catalogue Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, 147)

In the dialectic of the fashion pendulum, this era swung away from the austerity of World War II, and fashion once again embodied glamour and femininity. 1947 marked the year of Christian Dior’s first collection, inspired by flower petals and a shift against the utilitarian look of the war. An image from the show reflecting the new glamour is:

The V Back Evenings, Suzy Parker, Dress by Trigère, New York Artist/Maker: Lillian Bassman (American, 1917 – 2012) Culture: American Place: United States (Place created) Date: 1955 Medium: Gelatin silver print Object Number: 2011.35 Dimensions: 24.1 × 21.7 cm (9 1/2 × 8 9/16 in.) Copyright: © The Estate of Lillian Bassman

From Rebellion to Seduction 1970-1989

This era marked a cultural shift in fashion on many levels. Firstly, Diana Vreeland’s resignation from Vogue, signaled the end of a rarified approach in which the dominant fashion motif was haute couture and snob appeal. As Michal Raz-Russo explained in her essay in Icons of Style, Andy Warhol opined that “Vogue  wanted to go Middle Class.” Fashion became more relatable, youth-driven, and humanized. A second turning point occurred at the 1973 “Battle Of Versailles” in which French and American designers had a fashion showdown. Surprisingly, the Americans won the day due more to the energy of their presentation than the craftsmanship. Sportswear and career-driven pieces were now staples of the fashion scene. Street fashion was captured by fashion photographers like Bill Cunningham, Steve Johnston, and Jamel Shabazz.

Ye Fakers: Realism and Fantasy 1990-2011

David S

In the tome Icons of Style, Ivan Shaw, the Photography Director of American Vogue from 1996 to 2016, described the prolific period as one that “accommodated two opposing forces. While some photographers were rebelling against timeworn aesthetic norms and working to introduce a gritty realism into fashion, others were searching for pure fantasy.” The materialism of the Reagan era and expensive shoots were replaced by the grim reality of grunge, heroin chic, and the punk movement. The economic recession of the 1990’s also diminished the designer logo driven aesthetic of the 1980’s; additionally, this time period saw the emergence of Indy magazines. Photographers of this time period include Nick Night, whose images connect us to a world of surrealism; Steven Meisel who played with the concept of narrative and storytelling and Tim Walker’s theatrical photographs. The idea of the studio was also revolutionized with models no longer passively posing or “sitting” in a space; the studio became a source of experimentation of lighting, background, and perspective. Other photographers of the period include: David Sims who infused his images with intense energy, Craig Mc Dean, who embodied a cool minimalism, Mario Sorrenti, Mario Testino with his celebratory energy, and Steven Klein who his themes of darkness. Scott Schumann of the Sartorialist, brought to light online photography.

Above: David Sims British, born 1966 Yohji Yamamoto, Autumn/Winter 1995, 1995 Chromogenic print 88.9 x 71.1 cm (35 x 28 in.) Courtesy of and © David Sims EX.2018.7.1

Shaw explained in Icons of Style, “Fashion photography-once a niche industry with a cult following, has now become a primary cultural channel. The power of the combined visions of the photographers discussed has had an impact that has gone beyond fashion to influence film, music, television, and the fine arts.”

A Cultural Cocktail is really not complete without a dose of the Muse of Fashion.

For an edifying, visually engaging, and historically significant exhibit, check out Icons of Style at the Getty.

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Review: Gustav Klimt at l’Atelier des Lumières- PARIS- a MUST SEE

Gustav Klimt at L’ Atelier des Lumières -

A MUST SEE in Paris

a dazzling immersion of lights

in the City of Lights


Leticia Marie Sanchez

All Photography and text © 2018 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Klimt photo More

This month’s Cultural Cocktail recipe includes 2 Oz of Gustav Klimt, A Dash of Beethoven, A Sprinkle of Wagner, and a Splash of Visual Splendor- Enjoy!

The perfect Cultural Cocktail involves a blend of music and visual arts and the Gustav Klimt exhibit at Atelier des Lumières is a mesmerizing, intoxicating blend of artistic immersion, NOT to be missed.

Atelier des Lumières means “Studio Of Lights.” The site itself is unorthodox and compelling. The once dark, drab, former iron factory transforms into a feast for the senses, producing an artistic high. 140 laser video projectors illuminate the 16,000 square foot exhibit hall of the former iron factory with golden, gilded images as classical music soars through the space.


Klimt 8

To call it an exhibition is an understatement: the event is pure high-octane spectacle. My 3-year-old son, sitting next to me, asked, “Mom, is this an opera?”

The themes of the exhibit include Neoclassical Vienna, Klimt and the Vienna Secession, Klimt’s Use of Gold, Klimt’s Vision of Nature, Egon Schiele, and Klimt’s Images of Women. During the show, the space is filled with the music of Beethoven, Strauss, Chopin, Wagner, Mahler, Puccini, and Philip Glass.


Klimt Photo 3

It is apt that the music of Beethoven plays a key role in this exhibit, specifically Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Gustav Klimt created the Beethoven Frieze for the Fourteenth Exhibition of the Viennese Secession in 1902. Klimt’s Frieze was a paean to Beethoven’s Ninth, the Ode to Joy. Hearing the Ode to Joy while seeing the image of the Beethoven Frieze was a viscerally impactful experience, a multi-dimensional illustration of artistic inspiration.

Perhaps the iron factory can be understood as a metaphor for the human mind, the tabula rasa, the blank slate capable of being filled with wonder, and able to process a myriad of sensory experiences. Immensely ironic and a pleasant surprise was that despite the medium of high-tech digital media, relatively few people were taking selfies. The visitors were deeply absorbed in the immersive artistic experience, and the atmosphere pervading the room was one of hushed awe. A sense of respectfulness, of the sacred, of time standing still embodied the space.

Klimt photo 1

Because of the transcendent nature of this experience is a MUST-SEE for those in Paris. 

TIP: This is a popular show- purchase your tickets ONLINE before the show as it does sell-out (and tickets are sold exclusively online for weekend shows)- After witnessing a tourist without an online ticket turned away, I realize that this is a MUST!



TIP #2:  The crown of Jewel of this exhibit is the Klimt screening: there are 2 short films prior to this exhibit; quite frankly they’re a bit too loud & psychedelic- save your time for the Klimt feature ONLY

Running until November 8

The exhibit was created by Gianfranco Iannuzzi, Renato Gatto, and Massimiliano Siccardi, with the musical collaboration of Luca Longobardi. Its curator was Beatrice Avanzi.

l’Atelier des Lumières

38 rue Saint Maur, 75011

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Monet’s Water Lillies at L’Orangerie- Paris


Monet 1

At Monet’s opening at L’Orangerie

Art critic Louis Gillet


monet 3“An Astonishing painting,

without pattern,

without borders...

there is no sky

no horizon

hardly any


or stable points of reference

Another Monet

enabling the viewer to orient himself,

just completely arbitrary boundaries

between actual space and pictorial space.”



Jardin des Tuileries

Place de la Concorde

75001 PARIS

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Azulant Akora: Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week Fall Winter 2018 Highlight!


Leticia Marie Sanchez

Greetings from Paris!

At Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week  Fall Winter 2018, the uplifting strains of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s “Lark Ascending” played during the presentation of the ethereal designs by Azulant Akora. 


 The stirring music was befitting of a collection that proved inspirational, ethereal, and exquisite.

Akron’s presentation was filled with showstoppers including a intricate floral-imbued gown and a royal green dress that was regal and perfectly showcased in the golden, classically gilded room at La Maison Champs Elysées.

info@imaxtree.comWhat was even more impressive about Akora’s collection was that her creations managed to be both dreamy and functional at the same time. One can envision one of Akora’s stunning creations at a gala, red carpet, wedding, or other special occasion.

The level of detail on each gown elevated it to its own stratosphere. The fabrics, colors, and textures combined to create an inspiring mood. Her collection was seamless, yet each silhouette was unique: with shapes alluding to Art Deco or even the resplendent ladies of Gustav Klimt.

Akora emerged onto the Australian fashion scene in 2013 where she was awarded the Australian Wool Fashion Award. She entitled her latest collection AVATAr, after the film. Akora stated that her collection’s main theme is that: “ All energy is only borrowed, and one day you have to give it back. In life, everything is about balance; giving back as much as we take and respecting the Earth.”

 Cultural Cocktail Hour  Editor-in-Chief Leticia Marie Sanchez had the opportunity to interview designer Azulant Akora after the show.

Despite having executed such a mature, developed collection, the designer hails from the Millennial generation and her collection is made by Millenials. When asked about the inspiration behind her collection, Akora directly addressed her generation, encouraging “millennial to be more aware of what we do.” Akora revealed, “fashion has a global voice. Fashion is also conscious. Haute Couture connects people all over the world.”

Akora successfully executed her idea of connection and conscious. Her collection resonated with her audience, with our emotions, inspiring each of us to an elevated self.


VIDEO CREDIT: Leticia Marie Sanchez, Cultural Cocktail Hour, © 2018

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Greetings from Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week!

Greetings from Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week!

Haute Couture Automne Hiver 2018

While fireworks light the sky in the US during 4th of July weekend, across the pond, fashion fireworks take over Paris for Haute Couture Fall Winter 2018 Fashion week.

The city becomes a fashion Mecca with cultural landmarks like the Garnier Opera House and Musée Rodin transformed into runways for fashion designers to showcase their latest inspirations.

Cultural Cocktail Hour Editor-in-Chief Leticia Sanchez reports from Paris Haute Couture Fashion week. One unforgettable creation was the Azulant Akora Couture Show held at La Maison Champs Elysées. Stay tuned for the full report!

eti haute couture

Cultural Cocktail Hour Editor-in-Chief Leticia Marie Sanchez

Azulant Akora Couture Show

Monday July 2nd

La Maison Champs Elysées


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Sneak Peak- “Icons of Style” at the Getty Center

Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, 1911–2011


Upcoming, June 26 – October 21

West Pavilion, Lower Level

Madame Gres


Woman’s evening dress by Madame Grès

and her thoughts on the medium of fashion:

“I wanted to be a sculptor.

For me it’s the same thing to work

the fabric or the stone.”


For a full report on Icons of Style at the Getty Center, check back on CCH later this summer.

This week CCH is heading to Paris for a few Cultural Cocktails, including Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week, so stay tuned!

Wishing all my readers an art and music-filled summer!

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Cultural Cocktail Hour in Paris: Backstage at Palais Garnier, the Paris Opera, Part II

Backstage at Palais Garnier, the Paris Opera

Part Two

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

All Photography and text © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Charles Garnier declared, “I have two shows in my opera; one on the stage and one in the theater.” The most prestigious box, that of the emperor, was monitored by bodyguards. Nobles and industrialists had private boxes equipped with a curtain that came in handy for playing cards, ordering food, and engaging in amorous intrigue. On the ground floors stood working professionals, writers, and composers. Ladies were not allowed on the ground floor due to the tight conditions and bumping which resulted in occasional fisticuffs. Only prostitutes stood here as very few ladies in the nineteenth century worked as writers or composers. The very high chicken box nosebleed seats were called Paradise: one was close to heaven but could see nothing.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For this beautiful painting on the ceiling of the Paris Opera, Marc Chagall was paid only one Franc.

 Chagall was told that he should have created the work for free, due to the honor of the commission, but Chagall insisted on being paid one franc, out of principle. The canvas pays homage to Mozart, Berlioz, Wagner, Ravel, and Mussorsgsky and is a tribute befitting the moveable feast for the senses at the Le Palais Garnier.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         



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Cultural Cocktail Hour reports from Paris: Garnier and the Paris Opera

A brief history of Le Palais Garnier: Persona Non Grata and the Opera Bombs

By Leticia Marie Sanchez

All Paris Photography and Text © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Persona Non Grata

On the exuberant opening night at Le Palais Garnier, the Paris opera, one person was not on the guest list: Charles Garnier, the opera’s architect. In order to attend the inauguration ceremony with his wife, the landmark’s architect had to pay one hundred and twenty francs out of his own pocket. Persona Non Grata. Persona Non Gratis.

Garnier’s status had changed from revered architect to social pariah due to the shift in Paris’s political landscape. Garnier had been selected during a competition in 1861 under the reign of Napoleon III. The opening ceremony took place fourteen years later, under a vastly different regime. The government of the Third Republic had an aversion to any associations from the Second Empire, which included the Napoleon-selected Charles Garnier.

How did Napoleon III first come up with the idea for a new opera? 

The answer lies in two operas that took the phrase “the performance bombed” to a whole new level.

Opera Bombs

Napoleon III became obsessed with constructing a new opera house after escaping the Grim Reaper en route to the former opera house at Rue Le Peletier. On January 14, 1858, Felice Orsini and his cohorts hurled three bombs at the imperial carriage, killing eight people and wounding one hundred and forty-two others. The emperor and empress, however, survived and attended the evening’s performance of Rossini’s William Tell. Even if the performance bombed, you could always count on the Napoleons to put in a cameo appearance.

Napoleon III’s uncle, Napoleon I also faced an operatic death threat. On Christmas Eve, 1800, a bomb exploded as his carriage headed to the opening night of Haydn’s Creation, narrowly missing the emperor. How’s that for a Christmas present?

Napoleon III subsequently commissioned Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann to help rebuild Paris in a way that would increase the city’s security. Napoleon III envisioned fortified avenues extending from the Louvre and Les Jardins de Tuileries all the way up the Rue De La Paix. By widening the avenues of Paris, including the path leading up to the new opera, Napoleon III and Haussmann hoped to decrease the ability of pesky troublemakers to set up dangerous barricades on narrow streets.  

Now, if you happen to catch a performance that unfortunately bombs, be grateful that no dynamite or shrapnel is involved.

For more photography of the Paris Opera, please see the next article on Cultural Cocktail Hour.          

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Cultural Cocktail Hour heading to Paris!

Cultural Cocktail Hour will head to Paris at the end of this Month! (the last week of June)

In the meantime here are some photos from CCH’s 2012 exploration of Paris

All Paris Photography  © 2012 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Paris flowers

Paris Memories 2Paris Memories 1Paris memory more

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In the news: Sharks prefer Jazz over Classical Music

 According to a study, Sharks are more responsive to Jazz than to Classical Music.

((No wonder I haven’t seen any sharks sitting next to me when I listen to Brahms...) )

National Geographic News Link:

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