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FANNY LATOUR-LAMBERT’S BEAUTIFUL CREATURES

Fanny Latour-Lambert's photography exists on a plane of cinematic obscurity. From figures that contort across the lens to romanesque semi-nudity, each still unifies the photographer's conceptual eye with her model's natural essence. Since the age of fourteen, she's honed the enviable skill of making seemingly mundane beauty exceptionally stunning. Most notably, the photographer intrigues her audience by capturing numerous contradictions in each frame. In one photograph, nubile rouge lips are compromised by a sombre expression. In others, exposed skin is accentuated by thick fur coats and severe corsets. 




There are also, of course, the exquisite fashion editorials she shot for W, Vogue, i-D, GQ, Louis Vuitton, Chloé, Moncler and many more. While these editorials are a reverie of pastel handbags, aquiline features and Art Deco pigments, Latour-Lambert's use of experimental makeup, overcast silhouettes and generous proxemics insinuate that all is not as it seems. Playful and considered, her reportage style is catnip to both dark romanticists and artistic old souls. 


'La Période Bleue' in Vogue Poland November 2022


Born in Montpellier, France and residing in Paris, Latour-Lambert is drawn to the provincial countryside, as well as the capital's busy metropolis. "I've always found myself touched by a landscape, person or an outfit. I never understood the power of this sensitivity until I discovered that photography could help others to understand what I saw." For Latour-Lambert, the concept of beauty is subjective, malleable even. "Everybody is expected to like a lovely sunset on the beach, right? But, to me, a gloomy rainy day in Normandy can also be beautiful." 


Revering documentative photographers such as Paul Strand, August Sander, Sally Mann, Diane Arbus, Mary Ellen Mark and Cristina Garcia Rodero, her images are similarly infused with a candid flair. Latour-Lambert first came across Rodero’s work in her childhood; a time happily punctuated by annual visits to Spain's Basque Country during the Semanta Santa festival. When her father bought Rodero's photography book España Oculta (1989), she immediately recognised scenes from the celebration on its pages. "There's a dark and intriguing poetry in her pictures," she says. "They showed me how different perspectives can alter the stories behind what we see everyday." Crucially, Rodero inspired the young photographers to distort reality and engage with the environment around her. 



Initially expressing her creativity through painting, it wasn't until Latour-Lambert was fourteen that her penchant for photography emerged. "I was always imaginative," she says. "I would draw with paint and make up all these stories in my head. But I didn't find a medium to adequately convey my ideas until I found photography. And then I obsessed over it." Using a reflex camera, she was obliged to take a portrait of the popular girl in class for her Facebook profile. "I'd never used a camera that was of such quality before," she recalls. "And as soon as she put it in my hands, I was like, Wait a minute, why do I love this so much?" It was on her following birthday that Latour-Lambert received a high quality camera of her own and never looked back. Over time, her love for photography motivated her to experiment and eventually master the techniques required to produce industry standard photographs.





From the beginning, Latour-Lambert found photography to be a solitary endeavour that was often misunderstood as uncool and nerdy. But she persevered, first by taking photographs of her family and friends, and then of classmates whose features captivated her instinctive curiosity. Since she was still in high school at the time, the demand for her talent reverted largely to social media pictures and profiles. But as her popularity grew, Latour-Lambert became more selective with her subjects, nurturing her tastes and gravitating towards people who captivated her interest. 


Her fashion career took root when she was seventeen and scouted by a modelling agency to shoot their new faces. Latour-Lambert's devotion to her craft saw her skip class in high school, and then leave art college altogether to make her passion a full-time career. All her hard work paid off! At only eighteen, her first editorial (initially a test shoot) was published in L'Officiel Homme. Nowadays, her lens seeks narratives that go beyond fashion iconography, and she often collaborates with talented stylists like Gaelle Bon and Gabriella Norberg. 


Latour-Lambert is drawn most emphatically to her model's facial expressions and Calvin Van der Ghinst is one face she continuously uses due to his androgynous looks. "We did a shoot where he was a painter, not too much into the Egon Schiele era, but more like something around Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec." In another still, he appears like a young David Bowie in high school and in another, as Buster Keaton. Her works are as pictorial as the paintings often displayed in their backgrounds; seemingly hewn from fragrant pastels and rich pigments. 


The Greatest Magazine FW19/20


La Métamorphose series


In one photograph, a gamine model and old French renaissance sitting room is accentuated by a peach and lime green palette. Others depict artists in situ, chinoiserie backdrops, Baroque profiles, tableaus of women half-dressed and draped across a bathroom floor, and angular women with Louise Brooks bobs from 1920s Weimar Berlin. With her camera in tow, Latour-lambert is straddling the margins between modernity and a bygone era with masterful ease. "I'm always after a timeless feeling in my pictures," she says. "And am constantly mixing eras or blurring the line between now and then." 



Latour-Lambert’s carousel of portraits tend to converge loving intimacy with cold solitude. Their emotive fluidity derives from the intuitive "human contact" between the photographer and her subject. "It's the natural expressions and interactions that the models have with the camera which conveys feeling," she says. In an upcoming shoot in Normandy, Latour-Lambert and her creative team will explore a complex of deserted bungalows built in the '70s and '80s next to the beach. Barren and desolate, the mood of the idyllic environment shifts into something distressed and harrowing. Latour-Lambert plans to use this dichotomy to shroud her models with a sense of foreboding. 


The shoot will be made all the more disconcerting by the influences she’s pulled from 1997's Gummo by Harmony Korine; the American experimental drama film about a rag-tag gang of boys navigating the ruins of a tiny, tornado-ravaged town in Ohio. Surrounded by the deformed and perverted, the film's tone is suitably disturbing. Latour-Lambert also cites Michel Haneke's The White Ribbon (2009) as everything she loves "in a nutshell." From its dark aesthetic to subtle symbolism, the German mystery drama exudes the same sombre sensibility recognisable in the photographer's own work. 

Sisterhood series for Vogue Ukraine, January 2024


Throughout her practice, Latour-Lambert has remained rigidly authentic. Refusing to compromise on personality, identity or creativity, she's conjured photographs that visually arrest her viewers. From a model's impenetrable gaze to their costume’s flamboyant theatricality, her work reverberates with a genuine excitement and playfulness. It's gratifying to be both challenged and delighted at once- particularly when it comes to fashion editorials and campaigns. As usual, the photographer is currently engrossed in planning her next shoot, which will see her in Togo, West Africa, with stylist Laure Dansou and creative director Kaduri Elyashar. Considering her penchant for fanciful beauty, it promises to be yet another series of enigmatic portraits. 


 

Raegan Rubin is London-based freelance journalist specialised in art and fashion history, subcultures, social justice, sustainability, LGBTQ+ and Fetish culture.

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