This piece appears as part of “Not In Paris,” an online exhibition hosted and curated by Highsnobiety. Head here to see the full series.
What is a fashion show, really?
If we are to answer this question most honestly, a fashion show is a site for 360 content creation. And the vast quantity of images a well-oiled brand can capture during one afternoon-long event — including line-up photography, lookbooks, first looks, Instagram Stories, and the photos taken by the audience — is its own kind of media ballet. Ironically, the supposedly mysterious space of “backstage” is the most over-documented of all, with the models, assistants, designers, and glam squads themselves being among the prolific documenters of the moment.
To compare a fashion show to a movie set would actually be the wrong metaphor. Rather, it is more like a soap opera, a stage drama that takes place surrounded by multiple cameras rather than one director’s lens. Except in the contemporary fashion show, this number of lenses ranges into the thousands. “Some photographers told me shooting backstage is a little like shooting a wedding, and it’s partly true,” photographer Piotr Niepsuj says. “It’s very dense and short. And there is always the same well-defined series of events you have to capture.”
In his series “Over-Documentation,” taken at the FW17 Off-White™ presentation, Niepsuj flips the age-old genre of backstage photography onto its head. Images of slick, heavy, sometimes bazooka-like photo equipment map the contours of the fashion show panopticon itself: a frantic crossfire of hands gripping the machinery that turns an event into “media.”
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