Mid-century high fashion comes to North Van
Before Italian photographer Frank Horvat came to the scene in the 1950s, models were posed inside brightly lit rooms, their clothing carefully arranged to show off the designers’ intentions.
But on the streets of Paris, Horvat asked his models to act more natural; sitting on cement steps, standing at the back of a trolley, walking kids to school.
He was also the first fashion photographer to use a 35mm camera to create his unique style by meshing spontaneous photojournalism with staged photography.
Now North Shore residents have the chance to examine Horvat’s work up close. His mostly black-and-white photos are on display at Presentation House Gallery in North Vancouver until Dec. 23.
“Frank is a photographer that hasn’t necessarily had the exposure here the way he has in Europe,” says Jonah Gray from the gallery.
“He photographed high-fashion, not necessarily the clothes you’d see every day.”
Contracted by major magazines including ELLE, Glamour, VOGUE and Harper’s Bazaar, Horvat influenced a generation of fashion photographers by letting French streets play a part in showcasing cutting edge design.
Many of his photos spanning the last half of the 20th century are hung at Presentation House Gallery. In total, North Van is temporarily home to nine vintage prints, 57 reportage and fashion photographs and 16 magazine spreads done by Horvat.
“He was a pioneer, taking photos in the street,” says Gray, who had the chance to meet Horvat when he came to see the exhibit.
Now in his 80s, he is still taking photos and was on a airplane back to France as Gray spoke with The Outlook. He now works on personal projects, documenting his country retreat and working on “Trip to Carrara,” a series of collages taken in Italian marble quarries.
He was one of the first of his generation to embrace digital technology, says Gray, helping develop an iPod app called “Horvatland” that features 2,000 photos.
Before leading the way for today’s fashion photographers, Horvat freelanced from Pakistan and India and had gigs at LIFE magazine and Picture Post in London. After moving to Paris, he worked with top designers including Coco Chanel and Givenchy.
“Taking a photograph is like responding to an appeal. As if a person or a tree or a situation was calling me, crying out to me,” he told the Presentation House Gallery.
Presentation House Gallery is open from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. For more information about the exhibit call the gallery at 604-986-1351.