The Decadence of Chris von Wangenheim
Every season seems to be a resurgence of something, but this fall is shoving ’70s into our faces. No complaint here, as it’s always my favourite decade style-wise (’20s and ’90s are right behind). Just think of the amazing work achieved in the decade of decadence — art, music, fashion, film — and you’ll realize how fast it shook things up on the grand scale. What’s particularly sexy about it is that it was the last decade before everything was documented, before entertainment outlets blew up in the ’80s. So every time something resurfaces, it seems so much more precious. Such is the case with the work of late fashion photographer Chris von Wangenheim, who passed away in 1981 at the age of 39. His work graced the pages of every glossy mag, but most of his archives were kept private by his family. Until now.
The new book Gloss: The Work of Chris von Wangenheim is the first monograph of the photographer’s work, and it looks glorious. Von Wangenheim was as prolific and as shocking as Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton—they were branded “the terrible three.” He explored sex, violence and danger in the realm of high fashion, all themes that were emblematic of the time. His work was overtly sexual, but also a reflection of the women’s liberation movement. In hindsight some images failed to do the latter, such as the Dior ad (it read, “Fetching is your Dior”) with Lisa Taylor’s wrist being engulfed by a sinister looking Doberman.
Most of them were shocking then and some of them are still shocking now. But one can definitely see how his aesthetic rubbed off on Mr and Mrs “Porno Chic,” Carine Roitfeld and Tom Ford. We learnt recently that Marc Jacobs is a fan as the designer announced he would be hosting a Gloss release party, with strict dress code instructions (in ALL CAPS).
“STRICT DRESS TO KILL CODE WILL BE ENFORCED: FUR COATS OVER LINGERIE, LIP GLOSS, JERRY HALL SIDE-SWEPT HAIR, SEQUINS, GOLD LAMÉ TURBANS, PATTI HEARST SYMBIONESE LIBERATION ARMY GEAR, ROGUE, ROLLERINA CHIC, SHEER HAREM PANTS, MINI SKIRTS AND MUSCULAR LEGS, PLATINUM RECORDS AS HEAD GEAR, SEQUINS, GRACE JONES BUTCH REALNESS, GLOSS-Y SKIN, BLEACHED EYEBROWS, SLITS, RIDING IN ON A WHITE HORSE, SEQUINS, SKY HIGH STILETTOS, MIRRORED AVIATORS, METAL MESH, COWL NECKLINE HALTERS, OR EYES OF LAURA MARS CHIC. NO FLAT SHOES. NO MATTE SURFACES. NO NATURAL LOOKS.”
Can’t wait to see images from Marc’s spectacle.
The Wild World of Chris von Wangenheim, Another