Edward Steichen's 1928 glamour shoot on George Baher's yacht: From left, June Cox wearing unidentified fashion; E. Vogt wearing fashion by Chanel and a hat by Reboux; Lee Miller wearing a dress by Mae and Hattie Green and a scarf by Chanel; Hanna-Lee Sherman wearing unidentified fashion. ((Gelatin silver print, Conde Nast Archive, New York) )

Toronto will be flush with high-fashion photography this fall, as two special exhibits roll out the history of celebrity and glamour photos from Vanity Fair and Condé Nast.

The Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum have collaborated to bring shows about the grandfather of fashion photography, Edward Steichen, and those who followed in his footsteps.

Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, the Condé Nast Years, 1923 -1937 at the AGO presents early fashion shoots by Steichen from Vogue and Vanity Fair.


Edward Steichen's 1931 photograph of actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and his wife, actress Joan Crawford. ((Gelatin silver print, Conde Nast Archive, New York) )

The ROM's Vanity Fair Portraits: Photographs 1913-2008 begins with Steichen, but also brings the work of photographers such as Martin Hölig, Cecil Beaton, Baron De Meyer, Man Ray, Bruce Weber and Annie Leibovitz that were featured in the magazine.

The Vanity Fair Portraits exhibit drew record crowds at Britain's National Portrait Gallery earlier this year.

The exhibit includes Vanity Fair photographs of literary figures such as H.G. Wells, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Rebecca West, Ernest Hemingway and George Bernard Shaw.

There are also images of figures from the worlds of music, art, science and political life, such as Albert Einstein and  Pablo Picasso.

Many of the most popular images are fixed in the popular imagination including:

  • The Reagans dancing (1985).
  • A pregnant Demi Moore (1991).
  • A portrait of Ground Zero (2001).
  • Actresses Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley photographed nude (2006).

The ROM has added to its exhibit — opening Sept. 26 — a Jonathan Becker portrait of Conrad Black with his wife, Barbara Amiel.

The AGO's Steichen exhibit opens the same day and includes 200 photographs by a man who shaped the look of fashion and celebrity in the 1920s and 1930s.

Steichen was chief photographer at Vogue and Vanity Fair and shot the work of  designers such as Poiret, Chanel, Lelong, Lanvin, Patou and Schiaparelli.

He also captured images of hundreds of celebrities such as Douglas Fairbanks, Martha Graham, Amelia Earhart, Charlie Chaplin and Joan Crawford.

Sophie Hackett, AGO's assistant curator of photography, says Steichen's work "pioneered a new visual language of glamour, profoundly shaping the look of celebrity and fashion to this day."

The AGO worked with the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography in Minneapolis, and the Musée de l'Elysée in Lausanne on the Steichen show.

The Vanity Fair show is a collaboration between Vanity Fair and the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Both shows run until Jan. 3, 2010.


Hilary Swank photograph from 2004 by Norman Jean Roy for Vanity Fair's March 2005 issue. ((Vanity Fair/Norman Jean Roy))