Reference image: Richard Avedon, Dovima with Elephants, 1955
Reference image: Guy Bourdin, Charles Jourdan Spring, 1979
The striking images of Barbie in different postures and shooting locations that constitute Iconic B may seem strangely familiar. Sicilian photographer Alberto Alicata was supposed to come up with a series of still life shots for his fashion and advertising photography course in Rome: “I was having trouble trying to make forks look interesting in photographs, so thought I would try to capture something using still life photography that would still be about fashion. Looking at Bourdin’s work, I noticed that the legs of his model subjects looked very similar to those of a doll. I immediately thought about the most famous doll of all time: Barbie”.
Through Iconic B, Alberto has emulated the compositions of a selection of iconic photographs by the great masters of fashion photographers from the last sixty years, using Barbie as a symbol of contemporary Western culture. “Many of the photographers I like had used Barbie as a reference point at some point during their careers as a point of reference for beauty or an inspiring muse” explains Alberto, “Or often, they created shots with real models that recall her features”. Alberto’s intention was to do the exact opposite; he wanted to take influence from real models, immortalised by the photographers of some of his favourite iconic images, and make Barbie the star of his work.
Every image in this collection is an experiment and takes weeks to preconceive. After selecting his reference images, he dedicates weeks to research, enabling him to recreate the same photographic set on a much smaller scale, thinking about everything “from Barbie’s outfit to the surrounding decor”. A stylist helps him reproduce the exact same outfits for Barbie, but he worked alone on the sets, meticulously working towards creating a close reproduction of the original.
The images the photographer recreates are not just pertinent to fashion, emphasises Alberto, who has been fascinated by fashion photography for as long as he can remember. Iconic images such as those by Bourdin, Avedon and Lachapelle are an important part of the history of photography and our collective visual memory. Alberto hopes that in producing Iconic B the viewer is reminded of the classical photographs that inspired them.
Reference image: Mario Testino, Kate Moss, 2002
Reference image: David Lachapelle, Fruit Passion, 1999
Reference image: Guy Bourdin, Pentax Calendar, 1980
Reference image: Patrick Demarchelier, Christy, 1990
Reference image: Shirin Neshat, Rebellious Silence, 1994
Reference image: Gian Paolo Barbieri, Audrey Hepburn (Vogue/Valentino), 1969
All images © Alberto Alicata