Carla Sozzani’s career in fashion spans almost 50 years, and for over 40 of those she has been collecting photographs. This month, her great friend Azzedine Alaïa is showing a selection of these in his gallery in the heart of the Marais district of Paris. Curated by Fabrice Hergott, director of the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, the work runs the gamut between the iconic – in the true sense of this most overused of words – to the obscure. And so, alongside Richard Avedon’s instantly recognisable 1957 portrait of Marilyn Monroe, Helmut Newton’s Charlotte Rampling at Hotel du Nord (1973) and Erwin Blumenfeld’s Doe Eye, Jean Patchett (1950), is a series of gentle images by Sarah Moon, a 2001 shot of the famously diminutive M. Alaïa and the not so diminutive Paolo Roversi, photographed by the latter, and documentary photography by Don McCullin.
From Man Ray and Penn to Bruce Weber, and from Beaton and Parkinson to Meisel, to say that the collection is impressive would be something of an understatement. That Sozzani’s taste is second-to-none is well-known – her Milan gallery and store 10 Corso Como is nothing if not a testimony to that. However, there is a certain discretion at play that is a million miles away from the brash visual culture that often dominates today. Like her impeccable wardrobe – Sozzani wears both Alaïa and Comme des Garçons with an elegance that few rival – the collection is principally black and white, and while certain images are show-stopping – Newton’s highly sexualised nudes, for example – the majority are more quietly thought-provoking and increasingly powerful the longer they’re lingered over. It was M. Alaïa’s idea to stage this at once grand and intimate show – Sozzani has a personal and professional relationship with many of the names exhibited – and the end result is truly inspirational.
Entre L’Art Et La Mode, Photographies de la Collection Carla Sozzani, is at Galerie Azzedine Alaïa, 18 Rue de la Verrerie, 75004, Paris until 26 February, 2017.