‘Groundbreaking’ Fashion Photographer Roxanne Lowit Has Died

American fashion photographer Roxanne Lowit has passed away at the age of 80. Lowit is considered one of the most groundbreaking photographers in her field, thanks to her intimate and personal behind-the-scenes photographs of the fashion world.

Born in New York City in 1942, Lowit never studied to become a photographer, but instead graduated from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology in art history and textile design.

However, after playing around with an Instamatic 110 camera that was gifted to her by illustrator Antonio Lopez in the late 1970s, and using it to shoot her own designs backstage at shows, fashion editor Annie Flanders of SoHo News assigned Lowit to cover Paris Fashion Week.

Lowit learned to load the film for her new Nikon 35mm camera on the flight to France. She found herself photographing the scenes going on backstage at Paris Fashion Week and famously shot Andy Warhol and Yves Saint Laurent at the top of the Eiffel Tower on that trip. Upon returning to New York, Lowit quit her job and committed to becoming a photographer full-time.

Lowitt became a pioneer of behind-the-scenes fashion photography. Her images give a rare insight into the glitz and heady excesses of the fashion industry in the late 20th century.

As Vogue writes, “It was Lowit’s instinct to shoot the behind-the-scenes goings-on at fashion shows, however, that would prove to be one of her most lasting legacies—one born mostly out of necessity, she noted, given that the photographers allowed to shoot the runways at the time were predominantly men. Sneaking backstage, Lowit was able to capture another side of the fashion circus—a form of coverage that has now become de rigeur for industry publications during fashion month—and offered an intimate window into the more quotidian aspects of life as a model.”

Over the course of her career, Lowitt photographed cultural icons like Salvador Dalí, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Karl Lagerfield. But her most iconic photographs chronicle the rise of supermodels like Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss, Noami Campbell, and Linda Evangelista in the 1980s and 1990s.

A representative confirmed the photographer’s death on Instagram last week: “Roxanne Lowit was a legendary photographer who provided an intimate look into the world of fashion and showed us a side of nightlife that most people didn’t get to see.”

Image credits:Feature photo by Museum at FIT.