Inside the Horst P. Horst photography exhibit in Montreal with some of fashion’s most iconic images
Legendary fashion photographer Horst P. Horst (say that three times fast) is the focus of Horst – Photographer of Style, a new exhibit examining his most famous photos now on view at the McCord Museum in Montreal through August 23, 2015. Curated by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the exhibit is the first major retrospective on the German-American photographer’s six-decade career, and brings his work to life with oversized prints, sketchbook, contact sheets and archival footage.
Thanks to Horst’s longtime love affair with Vogue (he starting contributing photos in 1931, a time when fashion photography was just beginning to gather momentum), museum-goers can also take in a visual timeline of his many striking magazine covers, plus eight haute couture dresses borrowed from V&A’s private collection, including those from Chanel and Lanvin.
Besides fashion, Horst also experimented with portraiture. Think Bette Davis and Marlene Dietrich, to name just a couple of the Hollywood starlets he’s immortalized in print. He also dabbled in travel, nature and surrealism, counting a Salvador Dalí collab as one of his many notable moments. In the 1950s, Horst did a series of male nudes (à la Greek God), which would later inspire another iconic photographer, Bruce Weber.
His most famous photo by far is “Mainbocher Corset” (1939), a black-and-white image of a woman viewed from behind and sporting a Detolle corset. If the photo doesn’t ring any bells, think back to 1990 and Madonna’s “Vogue” video, wherein the pop diva attempted to recreate this evocative imagery. To prolong your visit, there’s an exhibition catalog (read: coffee table book) that will look just lovely in your fashion library filed between Demarchelier, Patrick and Leibovitz, Annie.