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FASHION VICTOR: THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF ALEXEI HAY

FOREVER TORN BETWEEN ITS AMBITIONS as art and its allegiance to commerce, fashion photography is so confident right now that for all intents the distinction has dissolved. Serious fashion types call the genre's most accomplished image makers “auteurs,” and the conceit seems more apt than ever. If the fashion photograph has traditionally been calculated to seduce, to startle, and, of course, to sell, today it often simply sells itself. Forget the clothes; forget the model; vision is all. Take twenty-seven-year-old Alexei Hay: Lifted out of the editorial context, his pictures rarely betray their function. “I never think about the clothes when I go to a shoot,” he says, and the fashion usually does seem incidental, if not entirely beside the point.

In fact, Hay would probably object to being described as a fashion photographer. He works regularly at Harper's Bazaar, where he must think clothes,

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