How photographer Miles Aldridge brought fashion into the living room

(Venus Etcetera (after Titian) Miles Aldridge)

There’s something very endearing about looking back to your formative years for inspiration. Take Andy Warhol’s famous pop art depictions of Campbell’s soup – which he ate for dinner every night – or Edvard Munch’s macabre paintings, drawn from the ghost stories his father read to him as a child. More recently, it’s British fashion photographer Miles Aldridge who draws inspiration from his younger years.

A compact mirror in his mother’s lacquered purse; a tattered paisley sofa; an old television – these are the childhood memories of British fashion photographer Miles Aldridge. At 58 he belongs to a group of like-minded contemporary artists who have established themselves through a preoccupation with nostalgia.

In his 24-year career he is both a visionary photographer and a daydreamer. Photographed Donatella Versace, Marina Abramović and Lily Cole for Vogue, The New York Times and Harper’s Bazaar, among others. He has worked with some fashion industry luminaries, including former editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani. “She was the Pope and I was Michelangelo, commissioned by her to paint the cover of Vogue Italia. Without her patronage I would not have become the artist I am today because she gave me carte blanche.”

It was this carte blanche that pushed Aldridge to break new ground as an artist – and to invoke a sense of childlike wonder and imagination through his visually arresting images. Despite all of his accomplishments and accolades, Aldridge still feels a little like an outsider. “I think that’s very much part of being an artist,” he says. “I don’t feel like everyone’s cup of tea and I really wouldn’t want to be because I don’t want to be The slightly tasty.”

Speaking to him in his lofty King’s Cross studio, he’s curious and confident, looking forward to his latest online retrospective, The Terror of Domestic Bliss. Featuring chromogenic prints, colorful screenprints and Polaroids, the exhibition, which has just opened at the Lyndsey Ingram Gallery, will focus on “the false promise of luxury, the mysteries of family and how the surface often belies what lies beneath”. support. ” Speaking to Aldridge, it’s clear that he has a strong work ethic and a flair for creativity. Alongside The Terror of Domestic Bliss, the photographer will publish his own book Please return Polaroida declaration of love for the medium of photography.

Dressed in sour dresses with perfectly coiffed bleach blonde hair, women of all ages and body types are staged and filmed in a technicolor dream nightmare. They’re freaky and scary at the same time, but always beautiful. “I redesigned the models as actresses from films I wanted to make so that instead of modeling the clothes, they were the protagonists in the story I was creating,” he tells me while presenting his favorite print, 3D, a multicolored mise en scène of a woman watching an epic in the cinema.

    (Miles Aldridge 3-D)

(Miles Aldridge 3-D)

It was this love of film that sparked his initial curiosity about photography. Seeing A Matter of Life and Death at his neighbor’s house after his parents’ split was a seminal moment for the photographer, influencing him on both a professional and emotional level. “The first nine years of my childhood were golden and then I stepped into reality,” he recalls. “I was in a strange house without mum or dad and suddenly everything was different. The tea tastes different. The food is different. The bed is different, but when I saw this film I was transported into this universe of images.”

At that moment, the colorful house he grew up in had fallen apart with music, psychedelic prints and crazy furniture. The glorious image of the family was shattered, leaving him not only with the absence of his father, but also with a mother wondering, “What’s next?”

The first nine years of my childhood were golden and then I stepped into reality

Still, the image of home remains untarnished for the celebrated photographer, who soon began translating the memories of his youth into powerful visual images. To appreciate that the breakup wasn’t a recipe for disaster; more productivity and creativity. Portraying women for what they really are – strong, beautiful and fiercely independent – in domesticated settings became Aldridge’s calling.

    (New Utopias by Miles Aldridge)

(New Utopias by Miles Aldridge)

“The characters of my work are always marked by an overwhelming sense of confusion, dissatisfaction, or uncertainty. Who they are and how they got there. And that’s how I felt in the middle of a very fast-paced world.”

Aldridge looks for beauty in the dark side of human nature. “Someone once said that childhood is revisited, you know? I think images that take you into a dark place but then back out into the light are as old as time. All the art I like confronts a kind of human duality in terms of what is unsettling and what is beautiful. That’s where you find meaning in art,” he says.

The Terror of Domestic Bliss is on view at the Lyndsey Ingram Gallery now until March 27th and his new book Please Please return Polaroid will be published by Steidl in Spring 2023.

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