Fashion photographer Roxanne Lowit, whose backstage photography and nighttime images captured the courage and verve of the fashion industry, is dead.
His daughter Vanessa deferred the comment Wednesday to Jesse Frohman, who said Lovit, 81, died on Tuesday. The cause of death at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, NY, has not been disclosed. A memorial is being studied for a future date.
Unassuming with her all-black wardrobe, black-haired bob, and short stature, Lowit blended so perfectly wherever she was photographing that her subjects instantly felt at ease. Short as Lowit was, she understood perfectly well that glamor could be a form of currency.
“You created a genre. You created the backstage photography. She was always an invited guest to all these parties. She was not a stranger. She was an insider who took pictures and was able to capture these most intimate moments, “said longtime friend Brian Cashman, MD.” With her eye on her, she was able to do it better than anyone. other. Ten photographers were chasing a shot, but her has always been the one who captured that moment best. ”
“It’s important to always look fabulous,” he once explained to WWD. Lowit would know this, having regularly photographed Kate Moss, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Shalom Harlowe, Helena Christiansen and the rest of the roster of high-profile models who helped define fashion in the 90s. Not only did Lowit focus on all the hustle and bustle behind the scenes, but she was also involved in the joke. The image of Evangelista covering her eyes, Campbell covering her ears, and Turlington covering her mouth mirrored the see-no-evil-hear-no-evil-speak-no-evil mantra and reflected also Lowit’s lifestyle. This double-edged humor was also clear in her series “VIP’s (Very Important Portraits)”.
His 1990 book “Moments” chronicled the nights at Studio 54 and Le Palace in the 1970s and early 1980s. “People thought she would live forever. It was an incredible mix: famous people mixed with people from the club. Everyone was a star. It didn’t matter who I was, it mattered what I looked like, “she told WWD in 1990.
Sure, “there was always someone who was going to get on the table and do something,” by his own account, but the onset of the AIDS epidemic moved that revelry and leveled the art landscape. “These times have changed everyone who has lived through them. As a result of the AIDS crisis, many of the most important people have died. The scene is now incomplete. They were young people like Keith Haring. And third-rate people will take their place, “he told WWD in 1990.
Speaking of that period, Lowit said: “Everything was more intense. Wealth wasn’t as important as glamor. Each person had something at stake, but she kept it hidden. “
Stylist Joanna Mastroianni recalled on Wednesday the start of what became a lifelong friendship with Lowit in February 1990. “I was a young fashion designer who was just starting out. She came to my studio to photograph me with my newborn son for Vogue. I knew she was a star, “said Mastroianni.” This was the first time I was photographed by a famous photographer. She was very calm and she made me feel very comfortable. ”
Recalling the good times the couple shared, the designer said: “Roxanne was always ready to play. I remember after a late dinner I went to an after party with her. There were the most interesting characters there. As soon as they saw Roxanne, they struck a pose. She has always been the first photographer to arrive backstage in my fashion shows. She entered very quietly on tiptoe and continued to photograph.
In addition to shooting for Vogue for nearly 20 years starting in the early 1980s, Lowit has also worked for Vanity Fair, Vogue Italia and other glossy magazines. Lowit’s portfolio also included photos by prominent artists such as Warhol, Haring, Schnabel, Salvador Dali, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Eric Fischl and Kenny Scharf. “She wanted to capture her time and the extraordinary people of that time in fashion and culture. Although she wasn’t a Hollywood photographer, she was more of a fashion photographer who captured the cultural and art scene. Whoever she counted in her day, she recorded, “Frohman said.
His family manages Lovit’s archives as they decide what to do with them. However, an exhibition of his photographs is expected to bow at the Cascais Museum in Portugal in September 2023.
Before diving into photography, Lowit studied textile design at the Fashion Institute of Technology specializing in manual screen printing. Working in textile design as a chief designer, WWD reported on Lowit’s textile designs in the late 1970s. At that time the Lowit, raised in New York, 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 models on the catwalks, and “the great photographers elbowed her out and the models took her backstage. [as their hairdresser]Cashman said Wednesday in a joint phone call with Frohman.
“He didn’t want to take pictures on the catwalk. She [thought] ‘They are getting it. I want something special. ‘ She was an artist through and through, ”said Frohman, a photographer who curated Lowit’s four books.
Karl Lagerfeld called Lowit “the invisible of the visual, a witness to the marriage of vanity and fame …” A further testament to her abilities was the fact that Lowit was Yves Saint Laurent’s favorite photographer for 24 years. Her level of well-being with her was clear, considering she called him by her name, while everyone else called him Monsieur Saint Laurent. Lowit also photographed the notoriously shy designer with the camera – as well as her collections – during that time. The mutual comfort level can be seen in a photo of Saint Laurent’s Lowit holding and kissing an architectural model of the Empire State Building. Another features the bespectacled designer with his arms locked around Lagerfeld, when the two men were still friendly.
Referring to his long run 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 before and changed the way women dressed ”.
Hundreds of his images of the designer and his collections are featured in his book “Yves Saint Laurent”, which runs from 1978 to his final collection in 2002. A teenager Kate Moss recalls a haute couture version of Vermeer’s painting “The girl with the pearl earring “is among the prized hits. Jerry Hall, Pat Cleveland, Betty Catroux, Catherine Deneuve and Lucie de la Falouse were among the many other fashion insiders Lowit photographed after hours. In addition to his book “Yves Saint Laurent”, Lowit has published “Backstage Dior”, “Moments” and “People”.
After checking her photos in the late 1970s, SoHo News co-founder Annie Flanders told Lowit that if she had a professional camera and shot the shows in Paris, Flanders would post the images on SoHo News.
“I learned how to put the film into a real camera on the plane on the way. The next thing I knew I was at the top of the Eiffel Tower shooting with Yves Saint Laurent and Andy Warhol, “Lowit said in an interview with The Genealogy of Style.” From there it was all downhill because how could it get better ? ”
In December of that year, when Halston threw a fantasy birthday for Steve Rubell that included giant stuffed animals, live ponies, toy soldiers and laughing 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 “fantastic career” and how she admired the photographer, not only for her talent, all-black wardrobe and friendship, but also as a single mother who navigate the fashion industry. In addition to hiring Lowit for advertising projects and backstage assignments for Jeremy Scott and other designers, Cutrone, Lowit and late photographer Mary Ellen Mark met for lunch on Fridays at Lucky Strike. “They were never really caught up in the women who ran them [fashion] publications. They’ve never hired women so much to shoot. It was really weird to both of them that they weren’t shooting in fashion anymore, ”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 was all black. She did her thing. In a way she called her shots, but she was awesome. in 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 lane. I really admired her because she was so elegant and she traveled all over the world. ”
In addition to his daughter, Lowit leaves behind his partner, John Granito, and two brothers, Daniel and Neil. Another brother, Bennett, died before her.