A few weeks ago, The Cut named a few photographers to watch. They ran the spectrum of what fashion photography is now and the one who stood out to me was obviously the weirdest of the bunch, Charlie Engman. His image featured an older woman staring at the camera, caught somewhere between fashionable folly and curmudgeonly crankiness. It’s charming and ugly and beautiful, something easy to fall in love with. The image—Above.—is from a series Engmand did called MOM that he did a few years ago for The Room. It’s an incredible series that shows that fashion and style are not tied to age.
The photos feature an older woman who may or may not be his mother posing starkly in contemporary wares. It’s a heightened form of dress up that sees this otherwise quaint woman cast as an object of fashionable envy. The photos work because Engman doesn’t make this character of the “mom” look conventionally pretty or comfortable in these clothes. This character is instead the bitter fashion grump who wears these clothes because she is entitled to, financially and intellectually. She doesn’t have time to explain why she looks this way or why her clothes are fashionable: they just are. Deal, kid.
There is also a great element of hysterical play time, that someone’s mother or grandmother is being forced into playtime despite her not wanting to. Whatever the truth is doesn’t matter as the story you can tell yourself about his MOM is exactly why they work. Catch more of the photos here and certainly wander around his portfolio. You’ll find something you like. Promise!