It is easy to notice similarities when looking at court paintings of the early Renaissance and contemporary fashion spreads today. Note how costume functions in the painting, what they emphasize and even the composition of the subject within the rectangular frame. Fashion advertisement and fashion photography today has become an extension of these court paintings and often we get confronted with direct references to this period.
There is one major distinction separating the two. In court paintings the costumes and luxurious spaces are secondary and are there to emphasize the power/importance of the subject; usually depicting Kings and Queens and Royal members through their wealth which = power. This changes in today’s fashion since the merchandise has become the primary subject and the people wearing them play a secondary role; the role of the model is birthed out of the necessity to evoke desire in the buyer.
Below are some extracts from two fashion spreads, one from Vogue Italia and the other from British Vogue.
Model Lily Cole Photography Miles Aldridge Vogue Italia 2005