Jerry Hall and Marie Helvin in Antony Price. (All images courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc)
Through the decades, the fun and feisty runway photographer Niall McInerney shot some 750,000 images that capture a pre-digital age when lensmen were crowded along the length of the high catwalks, focused on capturing the atmosphere and the magical moment rather than a mere documentary record of the designers’ looks. Fashion’s Front Line, a new book from Bloomsbury with text by Nilgin Yusuf, assembles some evocative highlights of McInerney’s career.
Niall left a hardscrabble childhood in Ireland’s Limerick for an early career as a shill and stage manager for a striptease joint in London’s Colin McInnes–era Soho. However, he befriended the professional photographer Lewis Morley (who created the iconic image of the Profumo Affair’s Christine Keeler astride a Verner Panton chair), a Soho local, and under Morley’s tutelage he graduated to photographing the ecdysiasts themselves; it was a short leap, then, to shooting clothed models.
As a fashion-struck teenager, Niall gave me access to his endless contact sheets from the international collections, nurturing my passion at a time when such images were rare as hen’s teeth, and we subsequently worked together for years when I was the fashion editor of London’s Harper’s & Queen magazine. With his Irish charm and steely determination, Niall was relentlessly effective in staking his territorial claim at the shows, securing the best positions and thus many of the most dramatic shots.
(L) Hussein Chalayan’s coffee-table skirt, F/W 2000–01. (R) Kate Moss in John Galliano S/S 1993.
Models exit the stage at Azzedine Alaïa, S/S 1992.
Shalom Harlow in Alexander McQueen S/S 1999 show.
(L) Linda Evangelista in John Galliano in October, 1995. (R) Patricia Velasquez in John Galliano’s first Christian Dior collection in Spring 1997.
Thierry Mugler ballgowns from 1984.
(L) Naomi Campbell at Azzedine Alaïa, F/W 1988–89. (R) Stephen Sprouse show in 1984.
Kenzo F/W 1982–83.