Voyeurism and desire are drives linked ontologically to the identity of the photographic and fashion system. Photographing someone is always an act of voyeuristic possession of something that belongs to another, or at least to the surrounding reality that one seeks to – fetishistically – appropriate. But the voyeuristic exercise of photography lives and is nourished by stimulating the exhibitionism of what is in front of the machine’s lens, thus completing and giving meaning to each other. When the context being photographed is fashion, the conditions of insistent voyeurism and intense desire (of emulation, projection, appropriation) become one with the very meaning of the image. In fact, moving from behaviour to the object, most of fashion’s photographic tradition can be traced back to an atmosphere of soft winking and erotic fantasy of the look. In this article, we take into consideration two well-known events that are generically associated with voyeurism and eroticism of the photographic image and fashion, reading them as a parable of the history of the male gaze of women’s bodies: from the triumph of the stereotype in the modern age to its sudden upheaval in the postmodern age. The first case is that of the Countess of Castiglione, who from the mid-nineteenth century was already able to demonstrate how photography could solidify male erotic imagery and, in so doing, present fashion as the style and attitude of an era. In contrast, we find Helmut Newton, famous and acclaimed fashion photographer and exceptional interpreter of the excesses of the eighties, able to bring that male erotic imagery to such exaggerations in the use of codes to make it almost harmless, cooling it.

Voyeurism and erotic stereotypes in fashion photography: Modernity and postmodernity from the Countess of Castiglione to Helmut Newton / F.Muzzarelli. - In: FASHION, STYLE & POPULAR CULTURE. - ISSN 2050-0726. - ELETTRONICO. - 8:2 &3(2021), pp. 189-204. [10.1386/fspc_00078_1]

Voyeurism and erotic stereotypes in fashion photography: Modernity and postmodernity from the Countess of Castiglione to Helmut Newton

F. Muzzarelli
2021

Abstract

Voyeurism and desire are drives linked ontologically to the identity of the photographic and fashion system. Photographing someone is always an act of voyeuristic possession of something that belongs to another, or at least to the surrounding reality that one seeks to – fetishistically – appropriate. But the voyeuristic exercise of photography lives and is nourished by stimulating the exhibitionism of what is in front of the machine’s lens, thus completing and giving meaning to each other. When the context being photographed is fashion, the conditions of insistent voyeurism and intense desire (of emulation, projection, appropriation) become one with the very meaning of the image. In fact, moving from behaviour to the object, most of fashion’s photographic tradition can be traced back to an atmosphere of soft winking and erotic fantasy of the look. In this article, we take into consideration two well-known events that are generically associated with voyeurism and eroticism of the photographic image and fashion, reading them as a parable of the history of the male gaze of women’s bodies: from the triumph of the stereotype in the modern age to its sudden upheaval in the postmodern age. The first case is that of the Countess of Castiglione, who from the mid-nineteenth century was already able to demonstrate how photography could solidify male erotic imagery and, in so doing, present fashion as the style and attitude of an era. In contrast, we find Helmut Newton, famous and acclaimed fashion photographer and exceptional interpreter of the excesses of the eighties, able to bring that male erotic imagery to such exaggerations in the use of codes to make it almost harmless, cooling it.
2021
Voyeurism and erotic stereotypes in fashion photography: Modernity and postmodernity from the Countess of Castiglione to Helmut Newton / F.Muzzarelli. - In: FASHION, STYLE & POPULAR CULTURE. - ISSN 2050-0726. - ELETTRONICO. - 8:2 &3(2021), pp. 189-204. [10.1386/fspc_00078_1]
F.Muzzarelli
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/828822
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