Above image: Joaquin Phoenix for Prada SS97
Glen Luchford‘s campaigns for Prada in the mid-90s remain among the most indisputably enduring fashion images of the decade. From Amber Valetta, suspended in an ethereal, milky pond like a punky Ophelia, to Joaquin Phoenix brooding with quiet intensity and Willem Dafoe flashing a devilishly boyish smile, these photographs preserve a record of time and place that is now being revisited courtesy of IDEA Books.
Titled Glen Luchford Prada 96-98, the new book is, by the publisher’s own admission, “One of the greatest fashion photography books ever made” – and you’ll see no objections from us. Luchford’s richly atmospheric style combines with the bold vision of Miuccia Prada (not to mention David James, who provided art direction) for a series of images that draw equal reference from cinema, art history and contemporary dance.
In spite of its broad synthesis of visual styles, Luchford maintains in the book’s opening pages (where he is interviewed by fashion journalist Lou Stoppard), that he never envisaged specific narratives. “I see them as cinematic but I wasn’t creating narratives, ” he tells Stoppard. “I just had films in my head and scenes that always stuck with me, and I wanted to find a way to recreate them in a fashion context – it was nothing more or intellectual than that, it was pretty simplistic actually.”
Luchford’s work for Prada is widely credited as an industry catalyst, responsible for a re-evaluation of what a fashion campaign could be. After its release, the series of campaigns helped set the precedent we see now, encouraging great creative license among photographers and bigger budgets to accommodate more ambitious visions. All we can say is, we’re very grateful.
Prada AW96 Willem Dafoe