The Exhibition Considering the Changing Role of the Female Body in Fashion

Words: Ellie June Goodman
Featured image: Brianna Capozzi

Inside a vacant retail space, across from the V&A, Shonagh Marshall and Holly Hay’s new exhibition, Posturing: Photographing the Body in Fashion, explores fashion photography’s recent move from traditional to avant-guard compositions of the body.

Presenting over 50 images from publications such as i-D, Marfa Journal, AnOther and 1Granary, the exhibition analyses the evolving role of the female body as more than just a clothes hanger. Inspired by a production call sheet, the layout of the exhibition is curated into six different sections, (styling, casting, hair and make-up, set design, location and layout) each of which exploring different aspects of capturing the body in fashion imagery.


Photograph by Bloomers and Schumm, ‘Navy’, from The Gentlewomen, Autumn/Winter 2010.


The images displayed range from sensual to whimsical in their representations of the relationship between body and clothes. Perhaps not necessarily the typical commercial style of fashion photography to which we are accustomed to, and so, the images look like they would be more at home in a contemporary art exhibition than on the pages of a fashion magazine. This debate is central to the exhibition as the photographers showcased are breaking the boundaries of what we know as fashion photography through the posture of the body.

Moreover, the exhibition not only celebrates fashion photography, but also the female body in many forms. It’s inspiring to see this change in fashion photography – a shift away from static shots of models posed in white studios for example. Also, the photographers have worked in collaboration with their models, stylists and set designers to create dynamic images that give greater context to the clothing featured. Nonetheless the purpose of the images is to advertise clothing, but, because this is done in a more visually captivating way it gives the images longevity. By surpassing the magazine issue or fashion season, the status of the images are then cemented as a work of art.

The diverse representations of the female body throughout the images used in the exhibition forces you to consider the garments shown, and their relationship with the body in a different manner. In celebrating both contemporary fashion and the female body, these images triumph in deconstructing the rules that have dictated fashion photography thus far. And so, the exhibition serves as part of a greater conversation on the importance of gesture and posture of the body in fashion.

Posturing: Photographing the Body in Fashion will take place at 10 Thurloe Place, Kensington, from 2 November — 12 November 2017.