For those who don’t sit front row at fashion week, the most exciting trends are in the intimate offstage moments. Leigh Lezark of The Misshapes, effortlessly pregnant backstage at Jonathan Simkhai in New York; Chiara Ferragni, standing windswept in bright prints and textures in the middle of a deserted street in Milan; the Hadid sisters in unimaginable get-ups, surrounded by photographers as they load into a private car. These are the kinds of images I’ve come to expect from high-profile fashion events: the ones on best-dressed lists online and in print, then reposted on Instagram. That was, of course, until I was introduced to the work of photographer Landon Nordeman.
Nordeman (b. 1974) is a New York-based photographer whose work ranges from backstage portraits of models in bizarre beauty trends to the chaos and patriotic fervor captured at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. Nordeman’s work is easily recognizable by its effulgent saturation and geometric construction. Typically, his subjects’ faces are not included in his images or are only partially visible. With or without human presence, his images pulse with energy that simply cannot be captured elsewhere. His photos are not photos of fashion, but are fashionable themselves. They oppose the conventional images that are expected of fashion shows. Not a single one of his images could be described as soft nor urbane; each possesses extreme colors and movement, yet Nordeman manages to keep the chaos of the moment contained. His new book of photography, “Out of Fashion,” chronicles the best of these images.
While some of his works show fashion icons, tangible to the masses because of their stardom (i.e. an amused Iris Apfel, not yet out of her seat at a show, or the back of Grace Coddington’s infamous red mane), most depict surreal imaginings of fashion that feel like something out of a psychedelic dream. One image shows a model’s profile; her red hair is parted deep off to the side and the left side of her face is open to the camera. While she looks off into the distance ahead of her, an illustrated eye, nose and mouth drawn onto the side of her face look directly at Nordeman’s lens; a face split in two. Another image captures two models walking in opposite directions down a runway in Paris. Their bodies are illuminated by light and their red, frizzy hair (unmistakably inspired by Coddington). A window between their bodies reveals a perfect, unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower—the sky surrounding it, a light blue with picturesque clouds dispersed about. I could not imagine a more ideal fashion dream if I tried. “Out of Fashion” boasts over one-hundred and twenty-eight pages of such photographic feats. Even after fashion week and the buzzing of social media, Nordeman’s images are able to stand alone as art in their own right.