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Erell Hemmer capturing the other side of fashion

Jossa Lukman
Jossa Lukman

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Wed, October 24, 2018 | 08:50 am
Erell Hemmer capturing the other side of fashion

Must-have: A photo shows the common criteria of people photographed outside fashion shows, sunglasses being one of them. (The Jakarta Post/Vellen Augustine)

For fashionistas around the globe, Paris Fashion Week symbolizes the epitome of style, with slick dresses, towering pumps and statement bags being par for the course for at least a week.

While street-style photography capturing the showgoers’ designer outfits can be considered common practice, French photographer Erell Hemmer puts a spotlight on the contrast between the glitzy and the gritty as shown in her photos displayed at her newly opened photo exhibition titled “La Galerie des Glaces” (The Ice Gallery) in Jakarta.

After being exhibited at Institut Français Indonesia in Surabaya, East Java, in February, “La Galerie des Glaceshas” made its way into the Fashionlink space on Senayan City’s eighth floor, where 16 of the 52 pictures will be displayed until the end of Jakarta Fashion Week on Oct. 26.

Despite Hemmer’s chief subject in the exhibition being the denizens of Paris Fashion Week, she is not a fashion photographer by trade, only being interested in the subject artistically.

“I obtained my diploma in graphic design five years ago, then I specialized in documentary, reporting photography and then after that I focused on analog photography,” Hemmer explained through an 
interpreter.

Hemmer’s passion for analog photography runs so deep in her veins that she does not do any digital photography at all, preferring vintage-style cameras for her work.

Beyond the catwalk: French photographer Erell Hemmer highlights the contrast between the glitzy and the gritty of fashion week in her photos displayed at the “La Galerie des Glaces” (The Ice Gallery) exhibition in Jakarta. The exhibition runs until Oct. 26.Beyond the catwalk: French photographer Erell Hemmer highlights the contrast between the glitzy and the gritty of fashion week in her photos displayed at the “La Galerie des Glaces” (The Ice Gallery) exhibition in Jakarta. The exhibition runs until Oct. 26. (Courtesy of IFI/Ndaru Wicaksono)

“The first thing I like about analog photography is the aesthetics. The thing about using analog cameras is that you don’t have a lot of pauses, so that’s why you should be super careful to be at the right spot at the right time,” she says.

“It allows me to take my time even more in thinking about what I want to capture because I can’t just snap away like I can do with a digital camera, paparazzi-style.”

She found there is a sense of adrenaline rush in analog photography as one would not be able to see the images taken until they are developed, giving them an element of surprise.

Combining this with the time-sensitive nature of street fashion photography, where there is only a limited timeframe between the subjects entering or leaving the premises, the experience becomes part of the thrill for Hemmer.

“Of course, when I thought about working on a topic related to fashion, I immediately thought about fashion week. As a French, you’d immediately think about Paris Fashion Week,” Hemmer said, noting that fashion is a major part of French cultural heritage.

Indeed, Paris has for a long time been associated with fashion, with many iconic fashion houses originating from the City of Light as well as the many fashion weeks for each season, be it haute couture or ready-to-wear clothing.

Hemmer said she went to Paris twice in 2014 and twice in 2015 to study the subject, and straight away she knew that it would be very complicated to get access to the fashion week events because it’s not open to everybody.

The other side: Photos show the other side of Paris Fashion Week, with fashionistas arriving in style for the event.The other side: Photos show the other side of Paris Fashion Week, with fashionistas arriving in style for the event. (Courtesy of IFI/Ndaru Wicaksono)

“It’s advertised everywhere, but to get access to the important fashion shows you have to be a very important person,” Hemmer noted, saying that she did not receive any invitations as she is not part of the industry.

Erell HemmerErell Hemmer (-/-)

Fortunately, Hemmer has a now-retired uncle whose hobby is recording the fashion week attendees as they get in and out of the venues, enabling her to get the appropriate information regarding timing and location.

As Hemmer’s uncle had been doing his hobby for quite some time, he provided Hemmer with the necessary connections to the journalists and other members of the industry.

“At first I was making my way into the venues, but very quickly I realized what was more interesting was what happened in the streets; this euphoria, this craziness before the guests come in and after they come out,” she says.

“What you have to know is that Paris is literally transformed during fashion week, and you can see even in the streets regular people walking around are super dressed up and super stylish.”

The advent of social media and the internet enables people across the globe to see photos and videos of Parisian catwalks, but Hemmer said the streets are largely out of focus.

After sticking around in the streets during numerous events, Hemmer noticed a pattern in the show’s guests when they mingled around being photographed before and after the shows.

“When the guests arrive, all the journalists and photographers immediately pounce on them. What’s funny is this contrast — when everybody’s inside and the show starts, during those 20 minutes everything calms down and it becomes a different ambience, and as everybody comes out and they only have a couple of seconds to get into their cars, it starts all over again.”

Looking through Hemmer’s photographs, one gets the sense that the photos are not about the fashion, but rather the attitude of the people wearing them.

Pointing to a photo of a woman wearing a pair of stylish sunglasses, Hemmer explained the woman exhibited the three criteria for people photographed outside of fashion shows — the must-have sunglasses being one of them.

“Always look busy on your phone, and make it very visible and obvious that you have an invitation; in this case, Dior,” Hemmer said, adding that the people also rarely smile, being almost as cold as ice.

That ice-cold attitude ties into the exhibition’s title, which coincidentally is also the name of a room in the Palace of Versailles that is filled with mirrors.

“It is also a reference; I thought it was funny to use it as the title in reference to the icy look in people’s eyes as they want to look important, and also the mirror part where people look at themselves.”

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