Fashion Designers Delve into Century-Old New York Times Photography Archive to Benefit CFDA

By Lauren Hill


Last Wednesday,  the fourth floor of Bloomindales 59th Street was host to the Fifty Photographs Collection with The New York Times curated by top fashion designers Diane Von Furstenberg, Michelle Smith, Prabal Gurung, Vera Wang and Zac Posen.  For the second year in a row, the NYT, in partnership with The Council of Fashion Designers of America, asked five top names in fashion to choose 10 images from the Times archive that captured each designer’s unique taste and style. The fashion icons went through photographs dating back to the late 1800s including everything from views of the Manhattan skyline to the flow and elegance of ballet performances.

Designers Michelle Smith and Prabal Gurung were on hand at the opening to share what inspired their selections.  Michelle Smith’s choices reflected the bold shapes and prints found in her collections. One black and white photo featuring Elvis, stood out from the rest. When asked what drew her to this particular Image, Smith smiled, saying she chose it because her father is an Elvis fan from Mississippi and she liked the southern romance that radiated from the photo.

Prabal Gurung– (pronounced ‘trouble with a P as he will charismatically tell you) chose photographs that told a story, like a 1969 image of an astronaut’s footprint on the moon or a pair of snow-capped alpine mountains from photographer Damon Winter.

Interestingly enough, the choices varied drastically from each designer, representing their outlook on fashion and were comparable to their masterpieces that walk down the runway each year.

If you missed Wednesday night’s opening, the installation will run until November 26 in the Designer Collections on the fourth floor at Bloomingdales 59th Street. The designers’ chosen images are also available for purchase on the The New York Times Store and a percentage of the proceeds benefit the CFDA, a non-profit organization that leads industry-wide initiates with more than 375 fashion designer members, including Diane von Furstenberg as CFDA President. Each image is available in a range of sizes (11” x 14”, 16” x 20” and 20” x 24”), with option to purchase framed or unframed (

How did the designers choose amidst the thousands of photos? “You get an emotional reaction,” says Smith.  I’m sure choosing these beautiful images is similar to designing their fashionable collections, you just connect with it!

SMOG - Zac Posen

Maple Leaf Rag - Diane von Furstenberg

Hold Me Tight - Michelle Smith




View of Astronaut's Footprint in Lunar Soil - Prabal Gurung




Behind the Mask - Vera Wang

Prabal Gurung

Fifty Photographs at Bloomindales 59th Street

Michelle Smith

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