Barker is an extremely humble and friendly person and spoke about his life and career before discussing the models featured in his book in more detail. Starting in the 1940s and continuing to the present day, the book features his hand picked selection of the most influential models. Barker emphasized that these women “weren’t necessarily the ones who were most successful but...they were the trailblazers.” Much of the presentation was a commentary on the relationship between models and how the photographs were a reflection of the culture and traditions of the time. He went through each era, demonstrating how models represented the changing times and epitomize the ideas and culture, or promoted changes. He included a number of models of different ethnicities that challenged our definition of beauty, and showed how each model left behind a legacy. Each pioneered something new- whether it was a full-figured, androgynous or all-American look, or was the first to appear on magazine covers as a woman of African or Hispanic descent.
"It’s the people. It’s us that’s deciding who’s the star and who’s not. If we want to influence what beauty is, it’s in our hands."
My great takeaway from his presentation was that today, the public has a very important and influential role in the fashion and beauty industry: “It’s the people. It’s us that’s deciding who’s the star and who’s not. If we want to influence what beauty is, it’s in our hands.” Barker noted now social media has transformed the way models start their careers and how advertisers determine which campaigns and photographs will be most successful.
Barker is much more than a fashion photographer; he explores cultures, advancements, and viewpoints of society and demonstrates how what we see in magazines is a culmination of these various aspects. The book features 255 pages of stunning color and black and white photography, and serves as a history lesson of both models and their effect on the fashion industry.