Looking for the Heroes: The Photography of Sheila Metzner
How do we come to construct our understanding of what fashion is?
Sure, it's cultural and social. It has to do with how we were raised, and where, and with what we were told about dress and appearance in the places and spaces we come from. It's also closely tied up with who we are as individuals, and the values and tastes we have, whether naturally or conditioned.
But it also has to do with the images we see that help us define fashion for ourselves. Somehow, in coming to our own sense of what fashion means, we pull ideas from the air and internalize them into a working relationship between ourselves and the clothes we wear, which we visit and revisit throughout our lives as we turn to those clothes for different things. In this sense then, in the sense that fashion images influence our most closely held ideas about fashion, fashion photography matters.
So, who should influence us? Whose work should we let in?
I say let in the artists who make us feel expansive. The ones who take us places and make us feel, even temporarily, that there is possibility in fashion. That slipping on a new dress can be a portal to a new identity or a new reality, if only for an evening. Don't we need more of that kind of magic in our lives? Fashion is powerful because with the right frame of mind, a dress can take you somewhere. But if I've learned anything, it's that the key isn't the dress, but the frame of mind.
Sheila Metzner is a photographer whose mind, and world, I adore being in. There's beauty and whimsy and wistfulness. There's magic.