Books: Stephanie Pfriender Stylander Captures "Beauty Fueled By Character"

By David Schonauer   Wednesday December 5, 2018

What the world wants now … are the 1990s.

Why shouldn’t our nostalgic attention turn to the era before the internet democratized everything and the iPhone turned everyone into a published pro photographer? It was a time when the high gloss of the ’80s bumped into alt-rock grittiness and a new kind of glamour emerged. In fashion, the face of the era belonged to Kate Moss, who happens to be the subject of a recent book by photographer Mario Sorrenti and who is now featured on the cover of a new book by photographer Stephanie Pfriender Stylander.

The book, titled The Untamed Eye, brings together more than 100 of Pfriender Stylander’s fashion images from the past 25 years — moody, cinematic imagery that, notes The Washington Post,  “collectively, embody the spirit of the 1990s.”

“In a way, The Untamed Eye preserves the state of photography from two decades ago, before the digital revolution disrupted the way we create and view images,” adds Wallpaper. “Pfriender Stylander speaks effusively about the liberty she was given by major publications that would commission her to create 15-page editorials – such freedom has become scarce in our time.”

“We were all on the road, there was a fantastic restlessness, we were young and in need of expression,” writes the photographer. “The great fashion and creative directors let you roam, they gave you twenty pages to express your vision — it was a complete creative playground where we could be rebellious, and the word compromise was not spoken, not even thought about.”

Kate Moss for Harper’s Bazaar Uomo. New York, 1992

Roumina and Luca Vellani for British GQ. Rome, 1993

Keith Richards for British GQ. New York, 1993

Pfriender Stylander says her path to photography began at age 14, when she went to a concert and saw the photographers documenting the event. She studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York, became an assistant to legendary photographer Art Kane, then moved to Milan and Paris, which is where her career took off. She went on to shoot for leading fashion magazines including Harper’s Bazaar Uomo, French Glamour, Interview and British GQ.

“Curious as a young girl, I started photographing people; I had a need to know who they were,” Pfriender Stylander notes. “I was also drawn to fashion which introduced me to designers who worked with a signature style and the interpretation of metaphor.”

As a photographer, she pays particular attention to her own use of metaphor, notes Wallpaper. “My photography is atmospheric, cinematic, emotional, dark in mood, and beauty is fueled by character. These are the ingredients that make up my visual vocabulary,” she writes.

Björk for Newsweek, 2000

Marie-Sophie Wilson for French Glamour. Marseille, 1991

Sylvia Van Der Klooster for Condé Nast Traveler, 2001, Taormina

Pfriender Stylander’s  influences “are not necessarily photographers but belong to larger cinematic movements like Italian Neo-Realism and the French New Wave with a dash of Cinema Vérité,” notes Musee.

“Her style will quickly impress upon you a thinker who does not belong to any specific time,” adds the website. “She takes the cool, hip aesthetic of celebrity (think Jean-Paul Belmondo in Breathless) and will juxtapose it with a much grittier reality, removing the sense of glamour.”

Heath Ledger for Premiere. New York, 2000

“What we see in this monograph is the mystical ‘magic’ that the photographer repeatedly extols – the magic of photographing icons and legends, of working in film, of anticipation, and of waiting for the pictures to develop in the darkroom,” declares Wallpaper.  In that sense, the ’90s were magic indeed.
At top: Kate Moss and Marcus Schenkenberg for Harpers Bazaar, New York, 1992



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