ANNA SKRABACZ | DATE 4/26/2017
Looking at the breadth of fashion photographer James “Jimmy” Moore’s work you might wonder why his name doesn’t sound more familiar, given its signature poise and 60s glamour. But a quick Google search reveals the astonishing fact that Moore is a complete ghost on the Internet. During his lifetime (1936–2006), he worked under the famed Richard Avedon—Diane von Furstenberg herself sorted his photographs with white gloves—and yet somehow James Moore does not even boast his own Wikipedia page. Luckily for us, Damiani's long-awaited, beautifully-printed new monograph, edited by Moore’s son Nicolas, introduces Moore to the digital generation.
The images, many of which were shot for Harper's Bazaar under legendary editor Carmel Snow, appear simple at first glance. In many of the frames, the model dominates the composition. However, as the introduction to the book points out, the photographs are never obvious. One of my favorite images from the book is a photo of Catherine Deneuve in 1969, her hands on her head, her elbows spread wide in a triangle. In what should be an awkward pose, Deneuve looks wonderfully direct; the sleeves of her dress suggest wings. Deneuve’s gaze is steady at the camera and because she is clearly comfortable with him, Jimmy can give this moment to the viewer.
Admittedly, sometimes Moore's photographs veer toward awkward, but the connection between photographer and subject always saves the frame. I would be remiss if I did not mention a bizarre 1962 photo shoot with Cary Grant. In the photographs, Grant sits backwards on a chair with his leg thrown over the top, laughing. Physically, this must have been an uncomfortable pose. But, as with Denueve, Grant trusts Moore, and the photograph—surprisingly—reads as charming. In fact, the images are so charming it may take the viewer a moment to pause and wonder why on earth Carry Grant has thrown his leg over the back of a chair. Moore's ability to turn a peculiar position or angle into a glamour shot is what makes him so interesting. Through Moore's lens the most sophisticated of fashions and famous of celebrities are simultaneously glossy and down to earth.
James Moore: Photographs 1962-2006 contains work from 1962-2006, spanning from black-and-white to color. Even with the changes in style and technology, all of Moore’s photos remain undeniably his own. His photographs speak of style and fashion, yet many recall art photography. Certain close-ups of a single model call to mind a contemporary Man Ray. Perhaps this is why Moore’s signature style remains so original, even today.
As introductions go, this book provides a tremendous first meeting with James Moore. Whether you’re familiar with fashion photographers past and present or stuck on vague memories of Fred Astaire in Funny Face, this book is an irrefutable treat for all.
Hbk, 9.75 x 12.5 in. / 280 pgs / 40 color / 110 b&w.
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