Fashion Flashback: Bruce Weber

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Fashion Reverie looks back on the career of iconic fashion photographer Bruce Weber. In the last two weeks, Bruce Weber has been accused of sexual misconduct with two male models. The verdict is still out on these allegations; whatever the final outcome around the sexual misconduct allegations, the result will not diminish the incredible genius of Bruce Weber and how Weber has almost singlehandedly elevated, through his photography, the status of the male fashion model. For the past four decades, Bruce Weber’s fashion imagery has appeared in Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, Vogue Italia, Life, Elle, Interview, Rolling Stones magazine, and campaigns for Versace, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Abercrombie & Fitch, Revlon, and a host of other fashion brands.Born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania Bruce Weber studied film at New York University and after briefly working as a model for Francesco Scavullo and Richard Avedon, Weber was encouraged by his wife-to-be Nan Bush and Richard Avedon to study photography with Lisette Model. His photographic images first appeared in GQ in the late 1970s. And though Weber continued to work as a fashion and celebrity photographer throughout most of the 1980s, Weber came to be known to the general public in the late 80s by shooting Calvin Klein campaigns.

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Weber established his signature style of black and white images of sexualized athletic male models by shooting his subjects in some state of undress. Weber’s image of supermodel Marcus Schenkenberg in a shower with a bare jeans barely covering up his private parts established Weber photographic style and catapulted him to national prominence.

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Weber also caused a scandal in 1980 by shooting Abercrombie & Fitch’s catalogue stocked full of revealing images of male models in various states of undress. Additionally, Weber shot the early images of Richard Gere and Mike Tyson.

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In the early 1990’s Weber went back to his film roots by shooting music videos for The Pet Shop Boys, Chet Baker, Will Young and Chris Isaak’s Blue Spanish Sky video. And in 2001 Bruce Weber filmed Chop Suey, a film about wrestler Peter Johnson who he had photographed for four years, and in 2008, filmed Nice Girls Don’t Stay For Breakfast with the actor Robert Mitchum.Weber has had more than a two-decade relationship with Versace and his campaigns for Versace have been considered masterpieces of fashion photography. Weber has also authored several books of photography that include Looking Good: A Guide for Men (1978), Bruce Weber (1983), Photographs of Athletes (1983), O Rio De Janeiro (1986), The Andy Book (1987), Bear Pond (1990), Pirelli Calendar (1997), The Chop Suey Club (1998) Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Fashion (2005), Roberto Bolle: An Athlete in Tights (2009), and Standing Tall: Portraits of the Haitian Community in Miami, 2003–2010 (2010).—William S. Gooch

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