Fashion photographer Corinne Day, who died of a brain tumor earlier this year, had a long and creatively fruitive relationship with Kate Moss. In 1990, Day photographed Moss, then aged 16, for her breakout cover story in The Face; Day also shot Moss's first ever cover of British Vogue in 1993, and in 2007, she was commissioned to take Moss's portrait for the National Portrait Gallery. After the hyperactive, glossy, bombastic fashion photography of the 1980s, Day ushered in a plainer, pared-back way of seeing. Day's work often seemed raw and was occasionally controversial. In some ways, her work in fashion was a kind of correlative to that of photographers like Nan Goldin in art.
Several never-before-seen pictures of Moss by Corinne Day are going to be part of a retrospective show this September at Gimpel Fils gallery in London. Curator Charlotte Cotton says, "I like the fact she never produced a particularly clichéd feminine version of photography. Her work has got deep emotional intelligence and sophistication, but it's not a particularly responsible or maternal camera."
Nowness had Cotton sit down with Phil Bicker, the art director of The Face who commissioned Day's shoots. Bicker says,
Everyone thinks of Corinne as an urban photographer, but she was a suburban photographer. It was much more about innocence than drugs. When you look at her pictures of Kate, there's a sense of naivety.
Cotton: Corinne found her alter ego in Kate, is that right?
Bicker: Basically, Kate was Corinne — she was the perfect muse. Corinne had been a model and she saw herself in Kate. She worked with Kate to realize things she hadn't realized about herself, and molded Kate into something that was actually a reflection of her. In those early days with Kate, the pictures were almost like the days of innocence — in a way it became a lot more contrived later on. The early pictures are the best.
Corinne Day: Heaven is Real