This Is What the Female Gaze Really Looks Like

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When it comes to fashion photography and celebrity portraiture, the field of talent is saturated by men. The average person will think of a dozen male names before someone like Annie Leibowitz pops into purview – but that’s not to say that women aren’t present and making fantastic art worthy of your notice. 

In Miu Miu’s unique Women’s Tales series of short films, the Italian label shines the spotlight on different women in arts and entertainment; actress and ingénue Chloë Sevigny and French director Agnès Varda have been past subjects. With woman at the front of focus, something fascinating occurs in this film series – the female gaze becomes prominent. The male gaze, which dominates the entertainment industry, places men and their desires at the center, and heavily objectifies the female body. The female gaze is gentler, more self-aware, more exploratory. It tends to see its subjects, no matter their gender, as real people – not objects. It tends to hone in on faces, hands, and micro-expressions.

The female gaze is gentler, more self-aware, more exploratory.

Coming out from behind the lens, while exploring her life behind it, is the star of the 18th installment of Women’s Tales, Brigitte Lacombe. Even if you don’t know the name, you’ve surely seen her work, as she is one of the modern era’s most important portrait photographers. The short film Brigitte, which recently debuted at Venice Film Festival, is directed by Lynne Ramsay. The two are in constant dialogue throughout the film, as they discuss Lacombe’s obsession with photography, her simultaneous feeling of intimidation and exhilaration when she gets behind the camera, and the innate feeling of knowing whether a moment you captured is true and genuine.

What is fascinating about this black-and-white film – which captures Lacombe’s shoot featuring Miu Miu’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection on set at a cavernous factory in London – is how she (the artist) guides and interacts with the subject. From a behind-the-scenes and first-person standpoint, the female perspective is vital. It is less about ego, and more about being present to – in Lacombe’s words – “receive”.  The trailer, above, will give you a taste of the magic, but you can watch Brigitte in its entirety on Miu Miu’s Women’s Tales platform here.

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