“It was a time for smiling, not pouting,” said The Face editor Sheryl Garrett, and so was born a new generation of freespirited rebels, lead by Kate Moss and captured by Corinne Day. The Gimple and Fils Gallery this week opened the new exhibition ‘Corinne Day: The Face’ – a retrospective on 90s Britain; the legendary magazine, the iconic photographer, and the girl from Croydon who came to define a generation, each one ‘the face’ of 90s youth culture.
The exhibition presents some of Day’s first photos for the magazine, some iconic and instantly recognisable, but also some lesser known images, all of which provide a wonderful opportunity to examine the legacy of the exceptional photographer and her muse. Walking through the small gallery space south of Oxford Street, it’s easy to forget how revolutionary the images produced by the three entities were.
The collision of the magazine, Day, and Moss was a revolution. The carefree, spontaneous aspect of the pictures still dominates countless ‘zines’ and blogs throughout London and internationally, all inspired by the mythical godfather of youth lifestyle media The Face. Day highlighted the fake, unrealistic nature of the glossy 80s fashion photos of made-up models in exotic locations by showing the young Moss in flip-flops, or chatting with local children in the ‘Borneo’ series.
Some of the most memorable images seem like candid photos, such as Moss mid-conversation in a basic hotel room, or the enthralling series of close-ups portraying differing expressions. No pouting glamazonians, no big hair and shoulder pads, just a skinny London girl, fresh faced and bare-foot.
Corinne Day broke down the expectations of a photoshoot, made the world in the glossy magazines seem real, attainable, and fun. Whatsmore, Day’s photoshoots weren’t concerned with selling a product, they weren’t even trying to inspire a lifestyle, Day’s concern was just to capture an idea, a culture, a moment of beauty. Much controversy followed Day throughout her career, but this exhibition amplifies the joy in her work. The celebration of happiness in the ordinary.
Corinne Day: The Face is on at The Gimple and Fils Gallery until October 1st.