Posted by: zelly b. | April 16, 2009

Doll Face: Miles Aldridge at the Hamiltons Gallery

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a huge fan of fashion editorial photographs. There is just something about the combination of colour, the models, the clothes and the poses that tickles my aestheticism bone. And I know I can’t be the only one either because the fashion photography industry has been running strong for around a hundred years. There are people out there who follow (religiously, might I add) the latest issue of Vogue or Vanity Fair and have for years. Girls and boys everywhere grow up reading high fashion magazines and aspire to them despite any controversy that occurs within the fashion sphere. Photographers and models become celebrities in their own right because their works are consistently showcased in haute couture magazines such as these.

So what happens when you take those glossy images of models strutting their stuff in bright, beautiful clothing and stick them in a gallery setting? Can fashion editorial photography also contain some sort of (albeit loosely) conceptual idea? And is this ‘conceptualism’ only realized once these photographs are viewed in a gallery setting? Like a drawing or painting conjured from the artist’s mind, fashion photography starts off as an idea sketched out by the photographer before it is brought to fruition. True, there is a distinct commercial aspect to these photographs in order to sell a product, but it cannot be impossible to infuse a photographer’s conceptual intentions as well.

Miles Aldridge is one fashion photographer (among many) who has shown that this is, indeed, possible. Based in London, Aldridge (born in 1964) is well known for his breathtaking, surrealistic and mildly erotic fashion photography featured in countless fashion magazines such as Vogue, New York Times Magazine and Paradis.

<em>Blooming</em>, Vogue Italia, 2007

Blooming, Vogue Italia, 2007

He constructs a series of worlds to photograph that take their cues from cinema; it’s a world like ours but hyper-realized. Often quoted for saying this, I’ll offer it up once more because Aldridge says it best:

“If the world were pretty enough, I’d shoot on location all the time. But the world is just not being designed with aesthetics as a priority. So I prefer to rebuild it instead of photographing the real one. What I’m trying to do is take something from real life and reconstruct it in a cinematic way. That’s why an hour and a half of an Antonioni movie is so much more interesting to me than an hour and a half of real life. Because it’s condensed emotion, condensed colour, condensed light.

At the Hamiltons Gallery, tucked between a series of quaint flats and condominium buildings at Carlos Place, Aldridge’s work is featured in a series entitled Doll Face.

13 Carlos Place, London

Hamiltons Gallery, 13 Carlos Place, London

Each photograph is meticulously put together to not only showcase the photographer’s talent and vision, but the gorgeous clothes and make-up while combining elements of cinematography and eroticism. His photographs are highly saturated, flawlessly touched up and full of interesting sets and subjects, each one with its’ own construct – like cinematic stills. In a magazine, the focus is on the clothing and the products being sold. But upon seeing these photographs hung on a gallery wall, one is forced to think about the setting in which they are displayed and what the photograph means beyond clothing, make-up and lighting – the technical. What else do these photographs convey? What was Aldridge trying to prove?

<em>Le Manage Enchantee</em>, Numero, 2007

Le Manage Enchantee, Numero, 2007

As a viewer, you’ll walk around the small space, reflecting upon the quiet. Past the reception desk is a greenhouse-like space with more of Aldridge’s work. I’m not sure how the sun through the glass roofing will affect these photographs in the long run (and I’m admittedly a little wary about that), but the natural light allows the colours to truly pop out at the viewer.

<em>Immaculee</em>, Numero, 2007

Immaculee, Numero, 2007

It is interesting to view these photographs out of a magazine context, because the viewer cannot help but give them a closer, more introspective look. Aldridge combines the art and commercial world, blurring the division that traditionally comes with images such as these. Glenn O’Brian, when he writes in Aldridge’s book, Acid Candy (2008) says: “Aldridge understands that in the post-surrealist world, the world where surreality is reality, there is no strict demarcation between dream and reality, art and commerce, art and fashion […] it is what it is. All is one.”

<em>Kiss of Death</em>, Vogue Nippon, 2008

Kiss of Death, Vogue Nippon, 2008

While Aldridge’s photographs may not be for everyone, I admire that he manages to combine all of the elements used to sell a product and still be able to maintain strong artistic concepts. I was glad to be able to see his work at the Hamiltons Gallery while I’m here as an official ‘Canadian in England’ foreign correspondent. While flattened to fit paper is focused on Canadian photography and Canadian photographers, it’s valuable to pick up inspiration and view the work of international photographers. There is a lot to see out there in the world, things we can easily bring back and work into our own portfolios. And while my ideas – and his ideas, I suppose – are arguable, I think Aldridge’s work is definitely worth checking out.

You can see Miles Aldridge’s Doll Face series at the Hamiltons Gallery if you’re in the city: 13 Carlos Place, London W1K 2EU. Tel: 020 7499 9493.

All source photographs, unless otherwise specified, were taken from Miles Aldridge’s official site: flattened to fit paper assumes no financial gain from these photographic sources, and has restricted these photographs for illustrative and exemplary purposes only.



  1. WOW! I really enjoyed that article. It was interesting, the perfect length, and extremely well-written. I am so impressed with the versatility of this author that I want to raise 3 glasses!

    (great use of pics too – I feel like I learned something today.)

  2. Thanks very much! :)

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