If you happen to be in Dallas or within driving distance of it, you may treat yourself to one of the most quietly exciting exhibitions to kick off 2021, that of the fashion photographer Paolo Roversi.
Paolo Roversi is one of those photographers that tends to frustrate you not because he is bad, but because he is do damn good. Roversi has been responsible for some of the most iconic imagery from Comme des Garcons and Yohji Yamamoto, and more than a few memorable portraits and fashion editorials. Along with Sarah Moon and Deborah Turbeville, he has managed to make fashion photography transporting, taking you to a place that’s quieter, more contemplative, more intimate. The frustration comes from the lack of avenues to experience his sensual, touching work. There are few books that capture his output, and there are few exhibits. In 2005, when I was just starting to write and I scarcely new his work I had a chance to review his Studio book, published by Steidl. I passed on it, and I still kick myself for it. You can now get it on Amazon, for $600.
Paolo Roversi’s dreamy images have sent this reviewer’s heart aflutter for many a year, so if this review is biased, don’t shoot the messenger. The painterly quality with which Roversi imbues his soft-focus photos takes them out of our age and puts them in one not so much defined in historical terms, but in terms of literary fiction, of worlds made up by the sheer force of human fantasy.
This Italian – and according to Roversi himself, he is very Italian in the art historical sense – has produced a stunning number of stunning photos in publications ranging from Vogue Italia to Another. A source of constant consternation for me has always been the lack of books about Roversi’s work. This past January, during my visit to a Roversi’s exhibit at 10 Corso Como in Milan, I spent a significant amount of time in nail-biting anxiety in front of a table strewn with Roversi’s books, some rare ones, weighing the heft of my wallet and the capacity of my luggage. What I am trying to say is that any time a Roversi book comes out, it’s an event. And so the new book of Roversi’s images of Dior’s haute couture, newly published by Rizzoli is a welcome gift, incredibly well executed to give Roversi’s otherworldly images their due.