Paolo Roversi: An exhibition on the accidental photography master

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The most intriguing new fashion show in Paris this year is actually a photography retrospective on Paolo Roversi, a man of Italian descent. The display delves into Roversi’s experimentalist aesthetic and fifty-year relationship with renowned designers.

The Paolo Roversi exhibition begins with a renowned series in which he collaborated with such luminaries as Yohji Yamamoto, Romeo Gigli, Nino Cerruti, and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons. The exhibition was unveiled on Wednesday evening inside Palais Galliera, the French capital’s renowned temple to fashion, art design, and style in general. As a result, his tender depictions of numerous generations of supermodels have established iconic ideals of feminine beauty.

After seeing this show, you’ll know why Roversi’s style is so recognizable to fashionistas. Unusually, he employs natural light, polaroids, and big format cameras. Although he frequently has an eerily accurate artistic feel for how to portray a fashion silhouette in a printed photograph.

In 1973, while still in his late twenties, Roversi made the journey to Paris. His unique style emerged after he shot cosmetics for Dior and ads for Cerruti, Comme des Garçons, Yoji, and Comme des Garçons. It was almost a happy accident when a black-and-white positive was developed on a polaroid in a Lucie de la Falaise and Amira Casar series, resulting in a spectral charm.

Autoportrait Paolo Roversi – Paolo Reversi

“The advances and breakthroughs in my work have often been the outcome of accidents,” admits Roversi.

Following that, editorial commissions from Egoiste, Vogue Paris, Uomo Vogue, and Vogue Italia were quite consistent. As a result, Roversi’s standing as a leading fashion art photographer grew substantially.

Roversi shifted to digital photography after Polaraid stopped producing its cameras in 2008. Despite this, he saved a plethora of Polaroid film and even published a book using the medium in 2023 called Des Oiseaux.

Using tiny car-sized big format cameras and secluded Parisian photo settings, such as the former workshop of Theodore Géricault, Roversi amassed an impressive collection of work.

Colored prints of Anna Maria in a Kawakubo rouched and ruffled gown are fantastical, while his early baryta paper portraits of Yamamoto model Sasha appear to be drawn with wide brushstrokes.

As Natalia Vodianova blossoms into her teenage years, a smeared and partially nude Kate Moss in Valentino for W Magazine exudes an unusual air of demi-monde splendor. His depiction of John Galliano with a pimp’s cocked hat reminiscent of the 19th century surely brings great pride to that couturier.

Even though Roversi rarely left his studio for assignments, his prices were still high. I should know; in the ’90s, when I was editor of Vogue Hommes, I had the privilege of commissioning his work.

Even though Paolo created the outstanding 1983 series Nudi for one of my predecessors. Ines de la Fressange, Stella Tennant, Amber Valletta, Shalom Harlow, and seventeen other iconic beauties are photographed in an unposed and unassuming manner. Pictures that are almost otherworldly and almost abstract.

When it comes to the great photographer Nader, who documented the strong and creative of late 19th-century France, Roversi is the fashion industry’s equivalent. To see why, just visit this exhibition.

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