Image Gallery

Fashion Revolution: Process

published on 6 August 2009

From its outset, the philosophy of has been to demystify the creative process. Rather than offering the final product as the acme of creative production, seeks instead to explore the process of getting there. From the artists’ initial ideas and inspiration to the techniques employed in achieving the end result both emotionally and physically revels in the act of making. By showing the process itself, it advocates that the collaborative effort is as important as any premeditated ideas on the path to creativity.

Explore the projects that featured in the 'Process' section of the SHOWstudio: Fashion Revolution exhibition at Somerset House.

From its outset, the philosophy of has been to demystify the creative process. Rather than offering the final product as the acme of creative production, seeks instead to explore the process of getting there. From the artists’ initial ideas and inspiration to the techniques employed in achieving the end result both emotionally and physically revels in the act of making. By showing the process itself, it advocates that the collaborative effort is as important as any premeditated ideas on the path to creativity.

Naomi, 2009

Daniel Brown, Naomi Campbell, Nick Knight

As an icon of our time, Naomi Campbell polarises extreme opinion. She has maintained her position as the world’s most successful black model since her debut in the 1980s at the age of sixteen, and Nick Knight has photographed her consistently throughout her career. His latest project is a sculptural rendering of her body using 3D scanning technology and rapid prototyping, creating a monument of the model as a cypher for our preoccupations and unwavering interest in the culture of celebrity. Adopting a three-way pose reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s Elvis Presley (1963), Naomi is a shrine to how we use these figures of idolatry to express our feelings. The sculpture was created from a triple exposure photograph, which was then translated into three-dimensional data and finally digitally carved. The process is at the forefront of emerging technology for sculpture and is a rare example of a photographic image being the referent rather than the pictorial reference for a three-dimensional piece. has invited exhibition visitors and its global audience to post their thoughts about Naomi, to allow their words to be projected across the illuminated surface of her as a colossus. Microphones placed in and around the sculpture will pick up visitors’ audio responses and broadcast them back to the site, creating a portal for global communication.

Transformer: The Bridegroom Stripped Bare, 2002

Alexander McQueen

The Bridegroom Stripped Bare shows Alexander McQueen at his exuberant best as he transforms a bridegroom into a bride in a frenzy of cutting, ripping, painting and gaffer-taping. McQueen is famous for his cutting and draping skills, often working directly on a garment while a model is wearing it. This film offers a rare glimpse of the designer at work, in what is usually an unseen, intense and private act. It is just one of sixteen performances in the Transformer series, filmed and broadcast live over a two-day period. Fascinated by the idea of transformation and the power of the transformative act, Nick Knight extended an invitation to friends and colleagues including Erin O’Connor, Juergen Teller, Katy England and Bobby Gillespie to devise and be filmed in an act of transformation that held personal significancefor them. While some performances were lighthearted, others provided meaningful insight into the different creative processes at play. This was the first fashion shoot to be broadcast live via webcam, revealing the working methodologies that underpin contemporary fashion image-making in real time.’s viewers were invited to e-mail live questions to ‘interview’ the team of creatives on set about their ideas, motivations and progress, creating a two-way dialogue between the event and its audience. Each performance was recorded in Polaroid stills, video footage and via webcam, allowing every aspect to be witnessed, during and after the event.

Power of Witches, 2004

Rei Kawakubo

Power of Witches was developed in collaboration with Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons with the intention of laying bare every step in the creation of a fashion image. Rather than presenting the process as a singular activity masterminded by the photographer, like, for example, the scenario acted out by David Hemmings in Michelangelo Antonioni’s film Blow-Up (1966), the idea was to show the breadth and rich complexity of the process, and the skills of the many people involved. The project was based around a shoot commissioned for the Autumn 2004 issue of AnOther Magazine, featuring Comme des Garçons’ Witches collection from Autumn/Winter 2004. A live, three-day webcast allowed viewers to witness the initial day-to-day activities conversations, experiments, interruptions—that fuelled and nourished the creative direction. Viewers were then able to see the artistry and technical skill of retoucher Allan Finamore as he worked with Knight to digitally retouch the images. The entire three-month project arc, from the original discussions to the pictures being published in the magazine, was documented in Knight’s Picture Diary. Its 250 images show preliminary studio shots, Knight’s personal progress reports and points of reference, retouching sessions and Rei Kawakubo’s responses.

Past, Present & Couture, 2002

John Galliano

The thirteen photographs comprising Past, Present & Couture were commissioned as part of an exhibition planned to celebrate John Galliano’s five years at Christian Dior. The five-day photographic shoot afforded the opportunity to reveal the ‘blood and guts’ of the process of creating a set of virtuoso photographs. Galliano selected a single outfit to represent each of the Haute Couture collections he had created for Dior from Spring/Summer 1997– Spring/Summer 2002 and chose his favourite couture models—from Karen Elson, Liberty Ross and Stella Tennant, to Erin O’Connor and Alek Wek—to bring each look to life with their exuberant poses. The shoot illustrates clearly the relationship between designer and model, and between designer and photographer, to inspire and direct the shot. A video camera positioned behind Knight’s camera told the entire ‘story’ of each shot, providing rare footage of the Dior team and Knight’s assistants building the sets and preparing each shot, and of Knight’s own ‘performance’ as he directed the models. Using time-lapse editing techniques and Dior’s house DJ Jeremy Healey’s hi-energy soundtracks to recreate the pace and energy on set, the Past, Present & Couture films provide insight into the team spirit involved in the making of a fashion image.

Sweet, 2000

Jane How, Nick Knight

Arising from Nick Knight’s earliest (and ongoing) experimentation with 3D imaging technologies, Sweet used stylist Jane How’s foil and cellophane sweetie wrapper recreations of Spring/Summer 2000 Ready-to-Wear collections to record intriguing ‘landscapes’ of 360-degree images using a CT head scanner. The gentle naivety of the confectionery packaging was intentionally offset against the latest cutting edge technology, with its malevolent Sci-fi connotations (as expressed through fictional representations such as the computer Hal in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey [1968]). Knight’s fascination with the scanner’s inability to distinguish between reflections, shadows and solid matter, and between an object that is receding or advancing, also meant that he could partly relinquish control of the final image. Such opportunity for experimentation suggested that Artificial Intelligence could have an artistic bent. Many complex relief maps were made of the heads of two models wearing How’s elaborate interpretations of garments by designers including Hussein Chalayan, Comme des Garçons, Thierry Mugler and Yohji Yamamoto. The computer then clad these images with Knight’s digital photographs to produce a striking and surreal sequence of still images in an interactive rotoscope that allows its user to manually explore a garment from all angles. The film animation is accompanied by a specially-commissioned soundtrack by Kieran Hebden and CLINIC.

PICTURE/MESSAGE: Erin O'Connor, 2003

Erin O'Connor

Live broadcasting and reportage have been central to’s activities since its early days, not only revealing the working processes of its core team but also those of the models, designers, stylists and other creatives that it collaborates with. Anticipating the now-ubiquitous personal blog, in 2003 the team devised a series of projects entitled PICTURE/MESSAGE to exploit the newly-available camera phones and emerging MMS technologies. Several participants created intimate diaries, including model Erin O’Connor who reported from backstage at Paris Couture Week, capturing candid and revealing shots in fashion’s most exclusive environs; others documented overseas trips and devised specific photographic projects.


David Weightman

Photographer David Weightman used his residency to stage Poser, a four-day shoot inspired by Michael Powell’s horror film Peeping Tom (1960) in which a murderer’s victims are forced to watch their own death in a mirror that contains a movie camera. Positioning the camera phone behind a tiny aperture in a hand-held, concave mirror, Weightman toured the front rows of Spring/Summer 2004 Paris Fashion Week, forcing his high-profile ‘victims’ to confront their own appearance as he photographed them.

Phonecarte, 2004/2006/2007/2008

Karen Elson, Lily Cole, Irina Lazareanu, Lily Donaldson

Extending the PICTURE/MESSAGE project’s intimate, time-based nature, since 2004 has asked models to participate in Phonecarte. For this ‘answerphone’ project, each season a different model is invited to send regular voicemail messages from the various fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris. Karen Elson, Lily Cole, Irina Lazareanu and Lily Donaldson were the first to report back. By logging on to the site,’s global audience listen to regularly updated, ‘personal’ messages phoned in directly from fittings, en route to and backstage at the shows, and afterwards from parties and hotel rooms. Using simple phone-based technology, viewers build up a unique and unprecedented insight into those fashion creatives whose voices are so rarely heard.

Collections, 2009

Alexander Fury, Laura Bradley, Chris Moore

Commencing with the Spring/Summer 2003 Haute Couture shows, the team has regularly reported live from the international catwalks. Transforming the humble phone into a mobile publishing tool,’s fashion reports are composed at the side of the catwalk and uploaded real-time onto the site. Live, direct and unedited, these reports were first presented on as entries to its BLOG—quickfire commentary shown alongside stills and video footage captured by camera phone. However, since the Autumn/Winter 2009 season, has expanded its coverage into a specific Collections section, uploading in-depth reports and collaborating with veteran photographer Chris Moore to create comprehensive galleries of catwalk images, all relayed globally to online viewers mere moments after each show finishes. Throughout September and October 2009, as the latest Ready-to-Wear collections are presented,’s Fashion Director Alexander Fury and Fashion Features Editor Laura Bradley will upload live reports from New York, London, Milan and Paris, selecting the best four collections from each capital to feature here.



Interview: Michael Howells and Stephen Jones on Set Design

23 February 2009
Michael Howells and Stephen Jones share the story behind the design of the exhibition Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones.
Image Gallery

Gallery: 'Hats' Exhibition Sketches

23 February 2009
Unique access to set designer Michael Howells' original sketches for the exhibition space of Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones.

Essay: Of Maggots and Madonnas

21 November 2001
Angel: Susannah Frankel on Nick Knight and Alexander McQueen's metamorphic Angel installation.
Back to top