The Untold Stories Behind Cult Fashion Film Blow-Up

The city of London in 1966 was almost theatrical in its duplicity. On the surface, business continued as usual – the dreary post-war years ticking along lethargically. Behind closed doors, however, and to onlookers from the continent, ‘swinging London’ raged; an unprecedented cultural revolution of fashion, parties, sex, drugs and hedonism.

It was this dichotomy which first caught the eye of Michelangelo Antonioni, the Bologna-born film director already well known by that time for his groundbreaking work in Italian cinema; his 1960 film L’Avventura had premiered to a chorus of boos at Cannes Film Festival some six years earlier, marking him out as an inimitable talent, if not an immediately popular one. By ’66, Antonioni’s fascination with the challenge of capturing a mood of doubt and uncertainty had manifested itself in Blow-Up, the now-cult record of London’s dynamic fashion scene. “I think what intrigued Antonioni wasn’t the surface, glamour, excitement or appeal of the new young styles in fashion and music or whatever,” explains Philippe Garner, author of 2010 book Antonioni’s Blow-Up, and formerly Head of Photographs and 20th Century Decorative Arts and Design at prestigious auction house Christie’s. “I think what really intrigued him was the ambiguity of it all. The myth grew very rapidly to be much greater than the reality. It wasn’t that people didn’t listen to certain music, or dress a certain way, but they were all getting revved up and excited around an idea which was no more substantial than the air.” via Another