oliviero toscani · the fashion photography

Determination, provocation and inspiration. Oliviero Toscani encourages students of Istituto Marangoni

A guru of image talks about the importance of styling in fashion photography. The meeting between Oliviero Toscani and the students at Istituto Marangoni has been stimulating and provoking. It concludes the first series of seminars with fashion professionals and entrepreneurs organized by the fashion school in Milano.

Oliviero Toscani has met the expectations of the many students who flocked to listen to one of the most visionary and provocative voices of advertising and fashion photography in Italy. Starting from the beginning of his career – about 50 years ago, when he worked for international fashion magazines – Toscani has retraced, together with the students, his work with the image and on the image. A series of iconic and famous images which have permanently changed our approach to photography where projected on the giant screen. They showed a life of shapes and figures which tell of journeys, stories, battles, events of social relevance, or campaigns in favour man-kind of human rights.

Starting from the many jobs with Benetton, up to the covers of some of the most important Italian and world’s fashion magazines, Oliviero Toscani has retraced his professional history and debunked some wrong beliefs which, he claims, today’s young people are soaked with.

“Photography is one of the simplest arts – says Oliviero Toscani. Who of us has never taken a picture? The difference is in what the image says, the story which lies behind, its contextualisation. Don’t spend time in front of a screen or locked up in a room. You will never become designers doing so. Experience your historical context – he warns – breath it in and tell it like none of you has done before. Try to reinvent it, re-imagine it in your work as designers. Now you have access to everything – back then doing research was extremely difficult – today everything is within your reach: the past and the present have no surprises for you and are always accessible. Spending too much time observing it, means falling into the temptation to copy what has already been done by others. An artist is simply someone who can do well what he/she does, who’s not afraid to dare and create something that probably will not get any positive response. Be brave then, I see too many young people wasting time and energy trying to conform, only aiming at success and public acceptance. Who only seeks that, will never invent anything. This is true for fashion as for all other disciplines “.

Toscani has then spent some time analyzing fashion photography, which to him has always been a free testing ground, freer than advertising has allowed him to be during his long and successful career. In this job the designer’s eye and creativity play a fundamental role. When creating fashion photography, only the stylist can show the photographer a different point of view, things that the photographer can’t see and hadn’t thought of.

According to Toscani, being a designer means always aiming at improving your product and yourself, never being happy with were you are at and always asking yourself if the same thing could be done better or differently. This is what Oliviero Toscani has learnt from some of the biggest fashion stylists in the world whom he worked with. They infused him with the culture of imagination, which once again, he invites students to reflect on. “Don’t stop at what you see, everyone can do this, don’t just accept it, go further” .

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