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Part Nouveau Reveals the Inspiration Behind Fashion Photography

By Jules Ebe on August 10th 2013

A new fashion blog Part Nouveau (partly-new) looks at the fashion industry and the inspiration behind the ‘newest’ trends. Whether it is art, photography or design, the site’s founder, Lilah Ramzi, shows us the creative material behind the fashion photography and designs splashed across the covers of magazines and commercial ads.

The blog seeks to aid our contemporary eyes, so used to being presented with the newest and latest within the creative world, to recognize and give credit to what has come before.

All artists pull inspiration from the past. A nod to what has come before and a new twist to the adage ‘there is nothing new under the sun’.

Here is a little showcase of historical inspiration:


“Richard Avedon helped to define the post WWII woman with his imagery of impossibly elegant women, theatrically posed within Avedon’s signature theatric narrative style. Dovima with Elephants is one of Avedon’s most well-known photographs featuring the model Dovima dressed in Dior at the Cirque d’Hiver of 1955 in Paris. To celebrate the relaunch of Harper’s Bazaar UK, previously Harper’s and Queen since 1970, in March of 2006, Norman Jean Roy photographed actress Cate Blanchett in a black Vivienne Westwood bodice and skirt ensemble similarly positioned amongst elephants, perhaps an homage to Avedon’s rich history at Harper’s Bazaar.”

[rewind: Richard Avedon: The Most Expensive Photos in the World]


“In 1939, Erwin Blumenfeld photographed a reportedly unharnessed Lisa Fonssagrives whose Lucien Lelong dress billowed in the winds atop the Eiffel Tower. The location for the French Vogue photo shoot was strategic, chosen in celebration of the monument’s fiftieth anniversary. Soon after Blumenfeld’s photograph, the city would see the havoc and ravages of war and the image served as remembrance of a former city. In 2008, Marion Cotillard was plucked to head the Lady Dior campaign, with ads that feature the French actress toting the prim bag around the world. For the Spring 2009 campaign, photographer Peter Lindbergh would also ascend the Parisian landmark, photographing Cotillard perched (undoubtedly more secure than Fonssagrives) atop the Parisian Landmark.”


“In the midst of the second wave of feminism, famed Esquire Art Diretor George Lois questioned gender roles, playfully conjuring up the vision of a beautiful woman, lathered up in shaving cream, razor in hand. Photographer Jean-Paul Goude was appointed to execute Lois’s vision, starring the Italian Actress Virna Lisi. Commonly misidentified as Marilyn Monroe, despite the fact that Monroe had passed three years earlier, Lisi was reportedly instantly onboard with the project despite its unflattering nature–Hitchcock blond Kim Novak’s publicist is said to have hung up on Lois after hearing his proposed cover. To celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the magazine, Esquire would look to their June 1965 issue, photographing a similarly coiffed Jessica Simpson mid-shave for the May 2008 issue.”


“In 1939, Horst P. Horst photographed models Bettina Bolegard, Helen Bennett and Muriel Maxwell for Vogue‘s November 1st Vanity Issue. Horst would often infuse his imagery with elements of surrealism, playing with perspectives and proportions, as seen in his 1939 birds-eye-view-style cover. In photographing a trio of Twilight stars, photographer Norman Jean Roy paid homage to the Horst cover with his own version featuring Dakota Fanning, Ashley Greene and Bryce Dallas Howard for Vanity Fair UK’s July 2010 issue.”


“The controversial and widely known John Singer Sargent portrait, Madame X, maintains its intrigue and mystery till this day. The once fallen strap to be later repainted in its rightful position continues to fascinate viewers and has been the subject of multiple recreations. In 1999, Steven Meisel recreated the portrait with Nicole Kidman wearing Oscar de la Renta for Vogue‘s June issue. In 2008, Peter Lindbergh also payed homage to Singer Sargent, starring Julianne Moore in Ralph Lauren for the May issue of Harper’s Bazaar.”


“A profile on George Clooney in Vanity Fair’s November, 2006 issue likened the actor to those of Hollywood’s past, portraying Clooney as a modern day Gregory Peck, James Stewart or Cary Grant. To accompany this comparison, photographer Norman Jean Roy, who often looks to Old Hollywood for inspiration, photographed George Clooney along side a Hitchcock Blonde played by model Gemma Ward in an homage to Alfred Hitchock’s 1955 film, To Catch a Thief.”


“Hitchcock’s sartorial focus, in addition to the beautiful Hitchcock blondes cast as leading ladies, make his films an obvious source for fashion inspiration. To celebrate Tobey Maguire’s role as Nick Carraway in the Great Gatsby film by Baz Luhrmann, Vogue featured Maguire and model Carolyn Murphy in an editorial inspired by The Rear Window. Titled, Window Dressing, the editorial was photographed by Peter Lindbergh and featured the 50s-revival fashions that were ubiquitous across the Fall 2013 runways.”


“Originally titled Le Bain, Edouard Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe or Luncheon on the Grass, was debuted in 1863 to rather mixed reviews ranging from laughter to outrage. Although Manet’s titillating picnic scene was in reference to Titian’s 16th-century painting Concert champêtre, which featured a similar composition of nude females amongst dressed men, Manet’s figures where not represented in a mythological or allegorical manner. In Manet’s version, the men are dressed in contemporary fashions of the period, suggesting a jarring realism. Manet’s famous painting has been referenced by countless artists and photographers since its debut and continues to inspire to this day. In 2013, Dutch photographer team Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin recreated the famous scene for Christian Dior’s Fall 2013 campaign video, “Secret Garden 2 — Versailles,” a sequel the previous year’s “Secret Garden” video.”

To see more from this treasure trove, click here.

Until Next Time . . .

Stay Inspired ~ Jules

[via Part Nouveau]


is a Southern California based Conceptual Artist and Photographer. Her work has been featured in several print publications and selections can be seen in local gallery exhibitions. Connect with her on Facebook and Google+.


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  1. Joseph Prusa

    Thanks for sharing

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