American fashion photographer Roxanne Lowit has died at the age of 80. Lowit is recognized as one of the most groundbreaking photographers in the world, thanks to her intimate and personal behind-the-scenes shots of the fashion world.
Born in New York City in 1942, Lowit never studied photography, instead graduating in art history and textile design from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology.
However, after playing around with an Instamatic 110 camera given to her by illustrator Antonio Lopez in the late 1970s, which she used to photograph her own designs behind the scenes at shows, fashion editor Annie hired Flanders from SoHo News Lowit with coverage of Paris Fashion Week.
Lowit learned to load film for her new Nikon 35mm camera on the flight to France. She photographed the behind-the-scenes scenes of Paris Fashion Week and photographed Andy Warhol and Yves Saint Laurent at the top of the Eiffel Tower during that trip. Upon returning to New York, Lowit quit her job and committed to becoming a full-time photographer.
Lowitt became a pioneer of behind-the-scenes fashion photography. Her images offer a rare glimpse into the glamor and heady excesses of the fashion industry in the late 20th century.
As Fashion writes, “It was Lowit’s instinct to photograph the behind-the-scenes action of fashion shows, but it would prove to be one of her most enduring legacies – one born largely of necessity, she noted in the face of photographers on the runways At that time mostly men were allowed to shoot. Lowit snuck backstage and was able to capture a different side of the fashion circus – a form of reporting that has now become the standard for industry publications during fashion month – and provided an intimate look at the more mundane aspects of life as a model.”
Throughout her career, Lowitt has photographed cultural icons such as Salvador Dalí, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Karl Lagerfield. But her most iconic photographs document the rise of supermodels like Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss, Noami Campbell and Linda Evangelista in the 1980s and 1990s.
A representative confirmed the photographer’s death on Instagram last week: “Roxanne Lowit was a legendary photographer who provided an intimate look into the world of fashion and showed us a side of nightlife that most people didn’t get to see.”
Photo credit:Feature photo by Museum at FIT.