Photo project

Beauty and Detachment: Fashion Week in Dina Litovsky’s Project

Dina Litovsky got an assignment from New York Magazine to shoot fashion week the way no one has ever done before.

Dina Litovsky, 36 years old

American fashion photographer. Born in Donetsk, lives in NYC. Graduated from psychology department of New York University and the department of photography of the School of Visual Arts. 3rd prize (2014) and 1st prize (2012) winner of NPPA Best of Photojournalism Awards. Her works have been published in The New York Times, New York Magazine, Stern Magazine, Esquire, GQ and Wired.

I started shooting “Fashion Lust” as an assignment for “The Cut,” a section of New York Magazine. For four seasons I photographed in NYC, London and Paris. Creating original work was one of the challenges at this very super image-saturated event. To do that I approached this assignment as a personal series, using my background in social psychology and my fascination with social interactions as my guide.

For decades, Fashion Week, held twice a year in Paris, Milan, New York and London, has been the ultimate, highly exclusive pageant for the fashion aristocracy. In recent years, with the skyrocketing of digital cameras and fashion blogging, its visibility has exploded, giving the general public access to this previously closed event. Through live feeds of the runways, the audience at home has become the new front row VIPs.

“Fashion Lust” points a curious lens at the carefully packaged and highly indulgent fashion image that has gone viral. My photos investigate the scene where expertly constructed self-presentation of the attendees rivals the air-brushed glamour of the actual show. With photographers often outnumbering models backstage or front row guests, the appetite to see and be seen extends to anyone finding themselves in the closed, hectic space of blinding flashes and surveillance style instagramming.

I managed to get a photo of one girl yawning, but how quickly she regained her composure as a few other photographers rushed to my side to snap the shot!

When I first started photographing fashion week I was more interested in backstage because that’s a more secret, coveted environment. But after spending some time there I realized that not much is really going on there. The setup is really confined and structured. Models sit in a blank environment surrounded by makeup artists and photographers, with pretty much every girl on her cell phone and not making any outside contact. There are 10 photographers for every model and the real moments are rare. In four seasons of fashion week I managed to get a photo of one girl yawning, but how quickly she regained her composure as a few other photographers rushed to my side to snap the shot! The models know they are being photographed all the time and try to avoid any expression or gestures that is not totally composed.

The front of the house is more interesting to me, I love observing the audience, the security and the many photographers roaming around to get a shot. That is a much more unscripted environment and much more surprising. My favourite photo from Fashion Week is the audience at Paris Fashion Week where every single person is on the cell phone or holding a camera or an iPad. It seems that no one is really watching the show but looking at it through their screens.

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