Archive for the ‘Lectures’ Category

Marc Jacobs draws inspiration from Sam Haskins’ for the FW 2012 show?

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

It is simply a fact that Sam’s seminal books from the 60′s; Five Girls, Cowboy Kate and November Girl are a constant source of inspiration to the fashion and glamour world. Not just other photographers but fashion designers, pop singers, cinematographers, make-up artists, illustrators and frequently graphic designers and painters keep gravitating back to the elusive resonance of those images.

Vivi Monster HatMonster Hat from ‘Cowboy Kate and Other Stories’ by Sam Haskins

Of course I cannot prove it – in the absence of a credit from Mr Jacobs – but it looks very much as though the Marc Jacobs Fall Winter 2012 collection presented in New York this week drew inspiration from the other famous hat featured in Sam’s work from the sixties, the ‘Big Hat’ from ‘Other Stories’ in ‘Cowboy Kate & Other Stories’ (1964).

Marc Jabobs does Sam s big hat 02Mark Jacobs giant hats AW2012 NY

Marc Jabobs does Sam s big hat
Mark Jacobs giant hats AW2012 NY

For the record I really love these hats and the clothes – absolutely beautiful

Of course Mr Jacobs would be different! Last year it seemed as though the whole fashion world rediscovered Cowboy Kate’s big floppy black hat. It started with the Tommy Hilfiger collection and spread like wildfire. The cover of Cowboy Kate is one of the most referenced images in fashion photography but last year the fashion designers took it to a new level and went mad for the black floppy hat that epitomised the sixties and tapped into the essence of Kate. But for Jacobs it wasn’t mad enough. It looks to me as though he spotted the brilliant caprice of the big hat in the field and turned it into the most talked about accessory at Fashion Week (FW2012 NY). This, very nearly 50 years after the photograph was taken next to Sam and Alida’s home in South Africa.

The hat icons from Cowboy Kate are not the only big hats from Sam’s work. The shot below is from the 70s when Sam had a studio just off the King’s Road in London. See the end of this post for the big hat from Five Girls.

Lindy Big Hat by Sam Haskins
Sam Haskins 70s

Marc Jabobs does Sam s big hat 09
Mark Jacobs giant hats AW2012 NY

Marc Jabobs does Sam s big hat 08
Mark Jacobs giant hats AW2012 NY

Below are examples, over the years, of influence drawn from the more famous Cowboy Kate hat – the wonderful black suede hat on the cover of Cowboy Kate. Rather than Kate having had her time in the sixties – Sam’s work is growing in stature and importance with each passing year. Successive generations of photographers hunting for the elusive definitive contemporary ‘face’ keep returning to the unique mix of liberation and style – not to mention cutting edge photography – that Sam crafted into his sequence of books while working in the obscurity of a downtown industrial building in Johannesburg during the sixties.

Kate Kate Cover by Sam Haskins
Cover shot from ‘Cowboy Kate & Other Stories’ by Sam Haskins

While his two main heroes, Richard Avedon and Irving Penn are more elevated by the art establishment, it is important to note that Sam’s work is more heavily referenced by photographers living and working today than either of his heroes.

Sam Haskins influence David Bailey 1965 i1
David Bailey (1965)

Madonna movie 01 frame 04
Madonna by Tom Munro – see the January 2009 entry of this blog for Sam’s thoughts about theft vs influence. To understand just how in love Madonna is with Cowboy Kate have a look at this video.

Madonna UK Elle CoverMadonna as Cowboy Kate by Tom Munro

Rankin does Kate 01
Rankin, one of the gracious few, has gone on record citing Sam as an influence

Sam Haskins Kate rip off 1965
God knows why Playboy produced this cover – a year after Cowboy Kate was published – when they could have had Sam shoot for them?

Talking of heroes and influence. It is interesting to note that Penn’s image of Picasso with the hat casting a shadow over one eye predated Sam’s work on Cowboy Kate – by about 6 years!

PICASSO CANNES 1957 Irving PennIrving Penn portrait of Picasso, 1957

And so it goes on, we all stand on the shoulders of giants. All of us!

And to prove the point here is another mad hat inspiration this time from Marcel Marceau referenced by Sam in ‘Five Girls’ (1962)

Shirly Beljon Dead Flower hat 3
Shirley from Five Girls by Sam Haskins

Marcel Marceau 01
Marcel Marceau

As an amusing footnote to this post – I thought it’s worth mentioning the origins of the hats in Cowboy Kate. Although on a smaller scale than America, South Africa benefitted from skilled German emigration in the 30s & 40s. The suede hat on the cover of Kate came from such a family, the Armbrecht’s as did the suede slacks featured in Kate. The ‘big hat’ however was produced by the most junior member of Sam’s studio staff, a teenage typist/receptionist, who designed and produced the hat without prompting. She presented her bold capricious creation to Sam who instantly organised a shoot to honour the home grown prop. I hope that she is still alive to read this post.


Update: February 19th 2012

In reviewing the blog post that follows the above news driven story I revisited the work of Jean-Loup Sieff and feel that he should also get a credit for possibly influencing Marc Jacobs Feb 2012 show in NY.

The gorgeous fur!? and the oversize forms!? – see the following delicious shots from the French master photographer, Sieff.

These images give me the opportunity to draw attention – quite apart from the possible influence on Mr Jacobs – to three critical factors that contribute to the joy and mastery of these Sieff photographs. A. They are self styled. This is from an era when photographers or members of their immediate staff played a key independent creatively role in fashion styling. In other words magazine appointed stylists had not yet moved into the positions of immense power that they hold today. B. These images combined high style and fun! Remember fun? C. They celebrate the control and beauty of sculpted studio lighting. This was an era when photographers had their own studios – instead of barrelling through rented spaces, in-and-out in a few hours. They had time, and they used it wisely.

Jean Loup Sieff Big Hat 01 460Jean-Loup Sieff

Jean Loup Sieff Big Hat 02 460Jean-Loup Sieff