Article by Roxana Florina Popa

All photos in an exhibition attract the last. And the last offers a variety of paths back to the other photos for the visitor who feels like contemplating the work of Horst P. Horst time and time again. The last photo puts focus on a red surface which has just been unpacked. What is inside the red box? Is it a present? A woman’s hand is preparing to write with a pencil. Is she going to write wishes or thanks to her admirer? I notice her diamond-and-gold bracelet. My heart is beating and I am smiling. The refined design hiding a small squared watch is “indubitable”. The wrist-watch is at the same time a feminine bracelet. Its small watch seems a precious stone. I get closer to the photo and my guess was correct. Now the pencil can write Cartier on the red unpacked surface.

02. Vogue 1942

Horst P. Horst

Vogue 1942 Model’s hand wearing a diamond-and-gold wrist-watch and ring of sapphires, rubies and diamonds, by Cartier

© Horst Estate / Condé Nast / Courtesy of Bernheimer Fine Art Photography

Digital Fine Art print

This is the Exhibition “Fashion in Colour” at the Gallery Bernheimer in Munich on the Brienner Straße. All displayed photos of Horst P. Horst are exquisite and their colours leave me with the desire to enjoy more. It is the third exhibition organised by the Gallery in cooperation with the Horst Estate Miami/Florida. Thanks to an exclusive representation in Europe, with the exception of the UK, the Gallery Bernheimer shows 28 photos of the Chief photographer of the Vogue Magazine in the 30’. Horst P. Horst is seen as the dean of the fashion photography. The exhibition is a first timer in presenting his colour fashion photography realised through the Kodak Kodachrome process introduced in 1935.

Entering the elegant premises of the Gallery Bernheimer, the visitor is welcome by the supermodel Muriel Maxwell wearing a Trabert Hoeffer & Mauboussin’s broche (1940). From mid-thirties through the fourties, the American jewellery house Trabert Hoeffer collaborated with the Parisian house Mauboussin and created exceptional pieces of high-end jewellery.

The photos in the exhibition seem to have been chosen to present timeless jewellery made of diamonds, rubies, sapphires and pearls.

Barbara 'Babe'

Horst P. Horst

Barbara “Babe” Cushing Mortimer Paley, Dress by Traina-Norell, 1946

© Horst Estate / Condé Nast / Courtesy of Bernheimer Fine Art Photography

Digital Fine Art print

The photo selection also reflects the current comeback of certain jewellery trends, such as the gold antique inspiration (Catherine Deneuve, 1984; Jane Fonda, 1959), the broches and the head jewellery. Very impressive are the gold bracelets with precious stones and the hair jewellery of Tiffany & Company (1940) presented in a further photo composition.

By the third photo, the visitor is immersed into a deep source of feminity, delicacy and elegance. Mysterious earrings in the form of angel wings worn by model Loretta Young shine under a broadbrimmed hat.

Loretta Young

Horst P. Horst

Loretta Young, New York, Dress by Falkenstein, hat by Lily Daché, 1941

© Horst Estate / Condé Nast / Courtesy of Bernheimer Fine Art Photography

Digital Fine Art print

This photo, as well as that presenting diamond jewels by Harry Winston express feminity through the union of jewellery with red flowers (Dress by Henri Bendel, Jewelry by Harry Winston, 1948).

The luxurious outfits and fine jewellery enhance the beauty of models. For Horst P. Horst women stay in foreground while their embellishing objects let themselves guessed and searched for by those who have the curiosity of precious details. My favourite photo is that of Susann Shaw wearing pearl chaplets both as necklaces and head jewellery. The photo was taken against a silk background at a time when the musical “Cover Girl” with Rita Hayworth was produced.

Susann Shaw

Horst P. Horst

Susann Shaw, 1943

© Horst Estate / Condé Nast / Courtesy of Bernheimer Fine Art Photography

Digital Fine Art print

Masculine jewellery is present thanks to a photo of Yves Saint Laurent wearing gold bracelets and cuff links at Chateau Gabriel at Bénerville (1983).

The contemporary touch of the exhibition is strengthened by photographs showing dresses and jewellery of Chinese (Mme. Wellington Koo, 1943), Indian (Dress by Jean Dessè, 1952) and oriental (Helen Bennett, Ensemble by Bergdorf Goodman, Jewellery by Olga Tritt, 1939) inspiration.

Each photograph is a mirror of feminity and takes me to unexpectedly beautiful colours, expressive compositions and most of all, elegant chic women. “Fashion is an expression of the times. Elegance is something else again”, was Horst P. Horst’s point of view.

I leave the gallery with two photos on my mind. One is again that of the supermodel Muriel Maxwell presenting modern accessories (Muriel Maxwell, ensemble by Sally Victor, bag by Paul Flato, sunglasses by Lugene, 1939).

The other one conveys the secret of feminine self-confidence in a black & white composition with golden bracelet: the smiling model lets a “swan-lake” background behind and steps elegantly and surely forward (Dress by Mollie Parnis, Background by Marcel Vertès, 1953). A reminder of the black & white photography preponderant in Horst P. Horst’s work. An excellent work of black & white to communicate essential messages of life style.

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