Fashion Update: Glitz without the glamour

Francis Hodgson, curator of Zwemmer Fine Photographs, believes David Sims is the new Bailey, writes Sophia Chauchard-Stuart.

To prove it, he has given the 27-year-old photographer (pictured right) his first solo exhibition, opening in London next week. But while Bailey captured Shrimpton as a wide-eyed beauty, Sims turned his model girlfriend, Emma Balfour, into the glam, sunken cheekboned, androgynous Bowie.

Rock references abound in Sims's work. Using the three-quarter cropped shot echoing the posters from his teenage years, he plunders images from favourite movies such as The Man Who Fell To Earth and pursued the real-life Iggy Pop to pose for him.

As part of the so-called grunge school of photography - together with Corinne Day, Mario Sorrenti and Glen Luchford - Sims has graduated from the pages of the Face and is now in demand from the top fashion press the world over. This month, the Face has voted David Sims 17th in its top 100 most influential people in fashion.

He is cheerfully ambivalent about success. At the opening of his show, he will be hanging out in a corner with friends trying to pretend it is someone else's gig.

But the irony of putting a fashion shot on a gallery wall is not lost on him: 'I'm not unaware that most people see a fashion picture in a magazine for maybe three seconds. So what does it mean to put it on a wall where you're meant to look at it for three minutes - does that work? I don't know the answer to that. What I'd like is for people to say, 'yeah, this is someone who is representative of their generation and does this say anything about the state of fashion photography now?' '

Sims's photographs acknowledge the art and artifice behind fashion's glossy exterior. By juxtaposing his non-fashion work with the apparent 'reality' of grunge he exposes the commercial intent with irony. The result is well worth three minutes' contemplation.

The show runs from 30 August to 1 October at Zwemmer Fine Photographs, 28 Denmark Street, London WC2, 071-379 6248.

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