Lee Miller

War and Fashion

Lee Miller

Documentation photo from the exhbition (Photographer Helle K. Hagen AS / Preus museum)

From 07.04.19
To 08.09.19

Fashion reflects its time and fashion in war is often a response to what is happening. It is also about maintaining a normality under the most difficult conditions. The destruction of war causes everyday situations that lead not only to change but also to renewal in fashion. Lee Miller was a pioneer in fashion photography, moving the shoots from salons and studios into the streets.

Who was Lee Miller? Undoubtedly a complex and extraordinary woman. After she died at the age of 70 in 1977, the wife of her son Antony Penrose found a hoard of pictures which Lee Miller had hidden away, repressed and ignored. She was recognised for her work as a war correspondent, photographically witnessing everything from the hell in the Nazi death camps to the liberation of Paris in 1944. In between, her life as a successful model, the muse of Surrealism, and Man Ray’s lover, was frequently in the media.

On the one hand a pragmatic, adventurous seeker of truth. On the other—according to conventional views—a (beautiful) source of inspiration for male artists. But Lee Miller was nobody’s belle, she was an independent, active woman, regardless of what she turned her attention to, be it the terrors of the Second World War or gourmet cooking.

She didn’t say much about her career as a fashion photographer, and neither did anyone else, since portrayals of war outshine narratives of fashion. But nothing impacts on fashion as profoundly as wars. The destruction of war causes everyday situations that lead not only to change but also to renewal in fashion. Fashion is a litmus paper for its own era, revealing everything from social circumstances to ideas about the future.


Farleys House & Gallery 

Lee Miller Archive

The Life Of Lee Miller, From Fashion To War Photography

Harrowing images of concentration camps during WWII are not usually synonymous with the idea of an elegant, young, female American photojournalist, but the name Elizabeth Miller evokes a combination of all of these, and more. Throughout her life she journeyed from being a muse and model to one of the world’s most sought after fashion photographers, and later was a war correspondent for Vogue magazine.Read more about the astounding life of ‘Lee’ Miller in this article