American Artist Cindy Sherman has had a long-standing connection with the fashion world. She has been commissioned to shoot campaigns for the likes of Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, Comme Des Garçons and Balenciaga. Her work primarily consists of conceptual self portraits in which she shapeshifts to depict herself as a variety of different personas and alter egos. These self portraits which serve as a commentary on artifice, superficiality and veneer naturally lend themselves to world of fashion.
Sherman began her career by painting her self-portraits when she began her studies at Buffalo State College, however, shifted to photography due to the limitations of painting. Despite failing photography class in her freshman year, Sherman repeated the course with Barbara Jo Revelle, whom she credits for having taught her about conceptual art. It was in college that Sherman began experimenting with thrifted clothing, dressing herself up as different characters and doing her own hair, styling and makeup. The interest in thrifted costumes started when Sherman was a child and was gifted by her grandmother some hand-me-downs from the 1920’s. After receiving the clothing from her grandmother, Sherman would often sift through vintage stores in search of more pieces to play with.
While studying art in 1976, Sherman created her famous 'Cover Girls' photo series, where she recreated magazine covers with herself as the model. This then lead on to her Fashion series that went from 1983 – 1994, starting with her work with Dianne Benson which was Sherman’s first fashion campaign. Sherman was asked to produce a series of advertisements for Benson’s NYC store ‘Dianne B’. Benson gave her free reign for the shoot, telling her to take whatever she wanted from the store to shoot with. Among the pieces she took, was Jean Paul Gaultier’s iconic cone bra that was later made more famous by Madonna on her Blonde Ambition tour. These were featured several times in issues of Interview Magazine. Around 10 years later, throughout which her Fashion series continued, Sherman worked with Harper’s Bazaar, followed by Comme Des Garcons in 1994.
For her Comme Des Garcons shoot, Sherman created a ‘Post Card Series’ for their AW ‘94 and ‘95 collections with Rei Kawakubo. The series featured unnerving shots of an almost unrecognisable Sherman, posed in CDG pieces. In 2006, Sherman worked with Juergen Teller for Marc Jacobs on a series of photographs that featured the pair dressed in Marc Jacobs clothing as everyday people, such as truck drivers and office employees. One year later, Sherman worked with French Vogue on a campaign for Balenciaga, taking a series of photographs that looked as though they had been shot by paparazzi. For this campaign, Sherman dressed as various New York socialites and reworked her usually solo self portraits into pictures that appeared as though there were multiple versions of her in the same shot. The series shows Sherman dressed as multiple characters in one image, looking like each is fighting for attention in one photo, and a couple of middle aged women desperate to keep their youth alive in another. “It was inspired by the idea of party photos seen so often in magazines where people, desperate to show off their status and connections, excitedly pose to have their picture taken with larger-than-life-sized smiles and personalities,” Sherman explained. The series was not released until 2010 when it was showcased for Fashion’s Night Out at the Balenciaga store in New York.
In 2011, Sherman was the newest face of MAC makeup, an appropriate collaboration considering MAC is famous for it’s bright, bold and colourful makeup and Sherman does her own makeup, often bold and garish, for her shoots. The images featured Sherman dressed as three different characters – a clown, a sad wealthy woman and an elf type character with distorted features. Not long after, Sherman once again collaborated with Harper’s Bazaar, poking fun at influencers and the fashionistas of that era, pouting in designer clothing. 2014 saw her collaborating with Louis Vuitton, among various other artists and designers, to give her own take on the brand’s famous trunk in celebration of their 160th anniversary. As well as these high fashion brands, Sherman has also seen herself in collaboration with more streetwear-esque brands like Supreme and Undercover. In 2019, she was approached by Supreme who used one of her images on a skateboard that sold out within minutes. 2018 and 2020 saw her collaborating with Undercover, her images printed on the front of both mens and womenswear.