A Vintage View with Dario Calmese
In his latest series, Amongst Friends, Dario Calmese fuses the high fashion and celebrity portraiture of 20th Century photographers -- like Richard Avedon and Irving Penn -- with the cultural preservation and enchantment mastered in the work of Malick Sidibé. Currently on view at projects + gallery in St. Louis, his monochromatic prints capture the essence of the history of African-American church society through the personal fashion inventory of Lana Turner; Harlem native and style icon, known for the expanse of her vintage clothing collection.
Calmese playfully depicts Turner on a staged yet casually elegant set, amongst her beloved hat boxes -- or friends -- donned in select vintage pieces from her personal collection. The occasional smile and relaxed posing in many of the photographs give the sense that the viewer is almost intruding on Turner in her element; as if she’s completely unaware of the camera, playing dress-up and relishing in her acclaimed wardrobe.
Calmese amplifies the effortlessness of Turner’s style through artful close-ups and angles that hone in on the many shapes at play in Turner’s garments and accessories. While shots of Turner’s face reveal a genuine sense of pride and confidence in herself, there is a strong impression that the same feelings hold true for her in reference to her personal and communal culture.
Amongst Friends is not only a celebration of Turner’s iconic style, but it also articulates the spirit of African-American church culture and its layered history, as seen in Harlem with Lana Turner.