An image from the "La Femme de Cabine - Martin Margiela" exhibition

CAMERA SHY: An exhibition featuring unseen photos by Jonathan Hallam taken behind the scenes at Maison Martin Margiela is courting the opposite of maximum exposure. Backed by new Paris creative studio Halebopp, the “La Femme de Cabine — Martin Margiela” exhibition runs through June 25 and is open by appointment only at its premises in the 11th arrondissement.

“We wanted to piece together a story that incites emotional intelligence and challenges today’s notion of instantaneity, oversharing and the bombardment of visual information,” explained Halebopp creative partner and workshop director John Saint Michel, who curated the show.

The exhibit presents Hallam’s portraits of anonymous women working at the house. Hallam collaborated with the notoriously shy Margiela between 1997 and 2008.

Taken without negatives, the images were exposed directly on paper using a vintage camera found at a flea market, some taking as long as 20 minutes to shoot, giving them a haunting quality, the photographer explained at the exhibition opening Tuesday evening. “It’s almost like the spirits of the people are contained in the pictures,” he said, adding that the gothic nature of the images appealed to him. “I was really inspired by Surrealism and the Nouvelle Vague. I was in a dream and the spirit of Surrealism leapt into my camera.”

Each 5×4-inch print was a one-off, and it is thanks to advances in technology that they have now been reproduced in larger formats for the exhibition, where they are offered for sale.

A limited-edition box of prints is also available to collectors on order.

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