Fashion photographer Roxanne Lowit dies – WWD
Fashion photographer Roxanne Lowit, whose behind-the-scenes photography and after-hours images captured the nerve and verve of the fashion industry, has died.
His daughter Vanessa reported her comments Wednesday to Jesse Frohman, who said Lovit, 81, died Tuesday. The cause of death at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, NY has not been released. A memorial is planned for a future date.
Unassuming with her all-black wardrobe, dark-haired bob, and short stature, Lowit fit in so perfectly wherever she shot that her subjects were immediately at ease. As low-key as Lowit was, she fully understood that glamor could be a form of currency.
“She created a genre. She created the backstage photography. She was always an invited guest at all these parties. She was no stranger. She was an insider who took pictures and she was able to capture those most intimate moments,” said longtime friend Brian Cashman, MD. “With her eye, she was able to do it better than anyone. Ten photographers were chasing a shot, but his was always the one that captured the moment best.
“It’s important to always look fabulous,” she once told WWD. Lowit would know, having regularly photographed Kate Moss, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Shalom Harlowe, Helena Christiansen and the rest of the list of high profile models who helped define fashion in the 90s. ‘t just focused on all the fuss behind the scenes, but she also got in on the joke. An image of Evangelista covering her eyes, Campbell covering her ears, and Turlington covering her mouth reflected the mantra of seeing no evil hear no evil speak no evil and also reflected Lowit’s own way of life. This double-edged humor was also evident in his “VIP’s (Very Important Portraits)” series.
His 1990 book ‘Moments’ chronicles nights at Studio 54 and the Palace in the 70s and early 80s. “People thought they would live forever. It was an incredible mix – famous people mixed with club people. Everybody was a star. It didn’t matter who you were, it didn’t matter what you looked like,” she told WWD in 1990.
Of course, “there was always someone who was going to get on the table and do something”, according to his own account, but the onset of the AIDS epidemic changed that rejoicing and leveled the artistic landscape. “These times changed everyone who passed through them. Because of the AIDS crisis, so many of the most influential people have died. The scene is now incomplete. They were young people like Keith Haring. And third-rate people will take their place,” she told WWD in 1990.
Speaking of that time, Lowit said, “Everything was more intense. Wealth was not as important as glamour. Each person had something at stake, but kept it hidden.
Fashion designer Joanna Mastroianni recalled on Wednesday that she began what became a lifelong friendship with Lowit in February 1990. “I was a young designer just getting started. She came to my studio to photograph me with my newborn son for Vogue. I knew she was a star,” Mastroianni said. “It was the first time I was photographed by a famous photographer. She was very sweet and made me feel very comfortable.
Recalling the good times the pair shared, the designer said, “Roxanne was always ready to perform. I remember after a late dinner, I attended an after party with her. There were the most interesting characters there. As soon as they saw Roxanne, they posed. She has always been the first photographer to arrive backstage at my shows. She tiptoed in very quietly and continued to shoot.
In addition to shooting for Vogue for almost 20 years from the early 80s, Lowit also worked for Vanity Fair, Italian Vogue and other glossy magazines. Lowit’s portfolio also included photos of prominent artists like Warhol, Haring, Schnabel, Salvador Dali, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Eric Fischl and Kenny Scharf. “She wanted to capture her era and the amazing people of that era in fashion and culture. Although she wasn’t a Hollywood photographer, she was more of a fashion world photographer who captured the cultural and artistic scene. Anyone mattered in her time, she was recording,” Frohman said.
Her family manages the Lovit archives while they decide what to do with it. However, an exhibition of his photographs is scheduled to run at the Cascais Museum in Portugal in September 2023.
Before delving into photography, Lowit studied textile design at the Fashion Institute of Technology specializing in hand screen printing. Working in textile design as chief designer, WWD reported on Lowit’s textile designs in the late 1970s. Around this time, New York-born Lowit received an Instamatic camera. Painting was another activity, but Lowit discovered a more fulfilling vehicle and instant gratification through photography.
Lowit began photographing some of her textile designs on the catwalk, and “the big photographers hustled her and the models took her backstage. [as their hairdresser]“Cashman said Wednesday during a joint call with Frohman.
“She didn’t want to do runway shots. She [thought] ‘They understand that. I want something special. She was an artist through and through,” said Frohman, a photographer who edited Lowit’s four books.
Karl Lagerfeld spoke of Lowit as “the invisible visual, witness to the marriage of vanity and fame…” Another testament to his abilities, Lowit was Yves Saint Laurent’s favorite photographer for 24 years. His level of comfort with her was clear, given that she called him by his first name, when everyone else called him Monsieur Saint Laurent. Lowit also photographed the notoriously camera-shy designer — and his collections — during this time. The level of mutual comfort can be seen in a Lowit photo of Saint Laurent holding and kissing an architectural model of the Empire State Building. Another features the bespectacled designer with his arms locked around Lagerfeld – when the pair were still friends.
Referring to his long career with Saint Laurent, Lowit told WWD in 2014: “He had an aura that no one would pierce. Ever since I first met him, I wanted to do something about him because I admired him so much. He did everything first and he changed the way women dressed.
Hundreds of his images of the designer and his collections are featured in his book “Yves Saint Laurent” which spans from 1978 to his last collection in 2002. Teenage girl Kate Moss recreating a haute couture version of the painting “La fille à la pearl” by Vermeer is one of the popular shots. Jerry Hall, Pat Cleveland, Betty Catroux, Catherine Deneuve and Lucie de la Falouse were among the many other fashion insiders Lowit photographed outside of work hours. In addition to his book “Yves Saint Laurent”, Lowit has published “Backstage Dior“, “Moments” and “People”.
After checking out her photos in the late ’70s, SoHo News co-founder Annie Flanders told Lowit that if she got a professional camera and shot the shows in Paris, Flanders would run the footage in SoHo News.
“I learned to film a real camera on the plane en route. Next thing I knew I was on top of the Eiffel Tower shoot with Yves Saint Laurent and Andy Warhol,” Lowit said in an interview with The Genealogy of Style. “It was all downhill from there, because how could it get any better?”
In December of that year, when Halston threw a fantastic circus birthday party for Steve Rubell that included giant stuffed animals, live ponies, laughing toy soldiers and clowns and a 75-piece marching band in December 1978, Lowit shot guests like Roy Cohn, Marisa Berenson, Barbara Walters, Truman Capote, Doris Duke and Cheryl Tiegs for WWD with Dustin Pittman.
People’s Revolution founder Kelly Cutrone on Tuesday recalled Lowit’s “incredible career” and how she admired the photographer, not only for her talent, all-black wardrobe and friendship, but also as a sailing single mother. in the fashion industry. In addition to hiring Lowit for publicity projects and behind-the-scenes assignments for Jeremy Scott and other designers, Cutrone, Lowit and the late photographer Mary Ellen Mark met for lunch on Fridays at Lucky Strike. “They were never taken care of enough by the women who ran these [fashion] editions. They never really hired so many women to shoot. It was really weird for both of them not to shoot more fashion,” Cutrone said of Lowit and Mark.
Explaining why Lowit was someone she became friends with, Cutrone said, “She had a lot of the qualities I wanted as a woman. She wore all black. She did her own thing. She kind of called her shots, but she was fantastic at what she did. And she was a fantastic mother to Vanessa,” Cutrone said. “She also had an idea of what was right and what was wrong. She never really got out of that way. I really admired her because she was so elegant and traveled the world. ”
In addition to his daughter, Lowit is survived by his partner, John Granito, and two brothers, Daniel and Neil. Another brother, Bennett, predeceased her.