Author: Pieter Hugo
Size: 24 x 31,5cm
Publication year: 2021
In Solus Vol. I, Pieter Hugo reflects on the values that constitute the fashion industry’s shifting aesthetic through a series of straightforward portraits of street-cast models. Hugo found himself captivated by sitters with unconventional and atypical looks, particularly before they underwent fashion’s machinations of wardrobe, makeup and hair. Drawn to this uniqueness and recalling the sense of not-belonging that is part of the intense experience of youth, Hugo’s invitation to the models was “Simply present yourself”. The resulting photographs embrace vulnerability and frailty as much as they do the agency and idealism of their subjects.
Commenting on the gap between what may be understood as “yourself” and “model”, Hugo notes: “They seem so different to how I felt at their age. I was much more cynical, more nihilistic. They are more comfortable in their bodies than I ever was.”
Hugo’s typological study questions fashion’s commodification of youth and the “outsider” while embracing the beauty of peculiarity worn with acute awareness and the paradox within us of craving both difference and conformity.