Flicking through gallerist Peter Fetterman’s private collection of fashion photographs brings to mind Andy Warhol’s quote: “The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people do.” Fetterman (who auctioned part of his collection at a New York sale last December) is to sell a further 64 images, around half his cache, at Phillips’ online sale Tailor-Made. Among the photographs are works by Cecil Beaton, Sheila Metzner, Gordon Parks and Horst P. Horst.
The pictures featured in Tailor-Made not only capture fashion moments but the mood of the times in which they were taken. A woman stands in a ballgown by the window of her Madison Avenue home: the soft drapes flowing around her cast her profile into shade. The image of Mrs Charles James in 1955 is a testament to Cecil Beaton’s fascination with fashion and high society (and it will be sold at an estimate of $3,000-$5,000 at the sale).
As the clock goes back to 1937, Coco Chanel is seen reclining in a chair in Paris, seemingly unaware of the photographer in the room. Her portrait reveals Horst’s mastery of light and composition (estimate $4,000-$6,000).
Fast-forward to 1987, where Horst’s surrealist influences and his fragmenting and eroticising of the female form converge in an iconic image – a set of legs in stockings and suspenders captured under the ruffles of a skirt (Round the Clock I, N.Y.’s estimate of $12,000-$18,000 reflects the importance of the piece).
Viewed as a collection, the photographs chart the course of fashion over the last century – a glorious romp in black-and-white and colour through life, culture and art. As Warhol put it, “fashion is more art, than art is”.