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Here’s Some of the Earliest Known Fashion Photography

If you ever feel stuck in an infinite feedback loop of late 20th century "retro" fashion reference points, you aren't going back far enough. 

Here's some of the work of Clementina Maude, Viscountess Hawarden, an amateur 1860s Kensington-based photographer who turned her camera gelatin dry plate on her two daughters and their voluminous crinoline frocks. 

Even though her ambition was broader than just showcasing the fashions of her day (she belonged to the Photographic Society of London and Lewis Carroll counted himself among her admirers), the romantic mood of the pictures, dramatic way she posed her models and her attention to the way fabric drapes and crinkles and moves makes this work as proto-fashion editorial as it gets. (Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione, was staging similar photographs with herself as the model around the same time in Italy.)

Anyway, enjoy the pictures. And thanks to tFS Forum user quinten for leading me to them. For more context and a really convincing argument for what makes Clementina Maude's work fashion photography, I really recommend this post by librarian Dave Walker at the Kensington Library. 

Images via RBKC Library Blog

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