Chanel and Prada on deserted parking lots. Armani in desolate landscapes. Dior amid wild nature. Models with bad skin, braces, and jug ears. Haute couture can seem so out of place! The most recent group of works by Alec Soth demystify fashion by transporting expensive accessories from Paris to ordinary places in Minnesota, and photographing them on by amateur models. Alongside these fractured images, Soth presents starkly contrasting photographs of the international fashion world—ranging from Karl Lagerfeld on the catwalk in the Grand Palais to Sonia Rykiel, the grande dame of French fashion, in expensive furs.
The 2007 photo cycle “Paris/Minnesota” came about as a result of a commission Soth received from the French “Fashion Magazine” to photograph the Paris fashion shows. Dissatisfied with the photos he had produced in Paris and their conceptual vacuousness, he expanded the series in his home state of Minnesota. In this study of contrasts, Soth creates an extraordinary and singular perspective on the fashion world—one with a certain distance, but not without empathy.