DOUBLE EXPOSURE: Photographer Bruce Gilden was trailed by all sorts of well-wishers at Thursday night’s opening of his “Lost and Found” exhibition at 10 Corso Como.
Organized in collaboration with Magnum Photos, the show is a compilation of street shots from the mid-Seventies through the Eighties, and more recent fashion images. Carla Sozzani, 10 Corso Como’s founder, first staged an exhibition of his work at the Milan outpost more than 20 years ago. “I loved his photographs of Americans — they are very strong,” she said. “Now he is working for Gucci — I can’t believe it. I love that Gucci is taking these people who are treasures and are using them.”
The lensman shot Gucci’s most recent look book in Rome, as well as magazine shoots for W and CR. The self-taught street photographer isn’t exactly high on fashion photography. “I don’t look at it. I’m too critical. What amazes though — and I don’t mention people’s names, because I’m not versed enough in fashion photography — is that when I had to choose some models and they sent me some books for these girls, I couldn’t believe some of the pictures. There were pictures from the waist up or the face up — showing [up] the girl’s nose. I mean, c’mon, it’s bad on both parts. It’s bad on the model’s part, because she doesn’t know. And it’s bad on the photographer’s part. Who are you using?”
Gilden will be backstage shooting Alessandro Michele’s upcoming Gucci fashion week show in Milan. Gilden said, “I like his choice of models. They’re not your average person. I found it better than I expected. There was a certain kind of people that I wouldn’t judge as being a model.”
Regarding his knack for fashion photography, Gilden said, “Look, I’ve been married three times. I have a flair for textiles. It’s just something innate, when you have an eye for something. I don’t know why. I’m a visual person, and I read a lot. I’m also, if I may say so myself, street smart. But I guess the visual side of my brain is much more developed than the other side.”
“I never understood why I don’t get hired for more fashion jobs, because I’m ‘the real McCoy.’ I can do this and most people can’t, [gesturing toward a photo of two imposing men, standing on Wall Street]. They’re coming out of the frame,” he said. “To get one good picture, anyone could pick up a camera and say, ‘OK.’ But to get pictures that are very good consistently, is very hard.”
Being a former high school athlete helps. “It goes very fast, I was a good athlete. When you play sports, you have to know what you’re going to do before the play happens. You can’t think. It’s very intuitive. I can see a person 100 times and I don’t want to photograph them. On the 101st time, I want to photograph them. I’ve been doing this for 50 years. If you’ve been doing something for 50 years and you haven’t learned anything, well…”
With “Lost and Found” on view through April 5, Sozzani will soon take flight for Atlanta, where “Masters of Cut,” an exhibition focused on Azzedine Alaïa and Gilbert Adrian, will bow Monday. “Obsessed with tailoring” and the details of Adrian’s work, Alaïa followed his work until he found out where the clothes were. He once drove to Texas in a truck with Julian Schnabel’s first wife to buy the costume designer’s collection from his son. The two designers had other points of connection like Greta Garbo. When the actress left MGM, Adrian did, too, relocating to New York to open a couture house, designing clothes for Garbo, Joan Crawford and others, Sozzani said. “It’s a beautiful story because it’s a story of love and not just collecting.
“Azzedine loved Greta Garbo because he had met her through Cécile de Rothschild. He used to say that her eyes were so impressive. He liked women, who wore low shoes and that were masculine looking,” Sozzani said.