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Fashion then and now: A story of representation

Watch a talk moderated by fashion experts about the representation in fashion photography

May 16, 2024

Touching on the two eras of fashion photography featured this summer at the Museum in Norman Parkinson: Always in Style and Portraits and Fashion: Quebec Photographers Beyond Borders, this panel invites you to join a conversation about popular versus true representation, the changing ideals and considerations in fashion imagery, and the culture of fashion in general.

Fashion presented through an image tells a story not just about what is shown but also what gets left out, a perpetual pattern of inclusion and exclusion. Can we celebrate the ingenuity of the artists involved in creating and capturing an image and the creativity of the image itself, with a critical lens on the dark truths behind what mainstream Western culture considers a beautiful shot?

Facilitated by Nadia Bunyan, sustainable fashion designer and executive director of Growing ARC, photographers and creative directors Oumayma Ben TanfousNoire Mouliom, and Yang Shi will look at what fashion was, what it is, and what it could be. They will explore and question the story mainstream Western fashion images tell and what this society celebrates as fashion. Has there been much change or have old ideals taken new forms?

This panel is an opportunity to have a deeper conversation on the not-so-easy realities of fashion photography, the image of fashion, and what it reflects about Western culture.

Presented by Holt Renfrew Ogilvy 


Activity, in English and in French, on Wednesday, May 15
Q&A in French and English


Nadia Bunyan • Fashion designer and et cofounder

Nadia Bunyan is a fashion designer who is proud to be constantly learning, she believes to see change in the fashion industry and beyond, we must begin with education. This led her to cofound Growing ARC, a nonprofit that uses the prism of material culture and its fashion systems to explore activities grounded in the farm-to-closet process. Beginning with the exploration of agriculture for textiles and natural dyes, Growing ARC creates spaces and PLAYDATEs for people to activate, reciprocate, and cultivate their relationships with all beings. With a focus on material culture and bioregional design, the project reinforces connections to the local environment. It also expands the understanding of biodiversity to include the diversity and perspectives of marginalized folks. Nadia believes that sharing knowledge is a way to raise awareness and is one facet of changing conversations on sustainability to a cultural practice of sustainability.

Oumayma Ben Tanfous • Photograph

Oumayma Ben Tanfous is a Tunisian-born photographer and filmmaker. Her career first took off in Montreal and New York, where she has drawn attention as an emerging talent on the arts scene. Specializing in portraiture, she brilliantly combines the fashion world with documentary, creating a distinctive style that has taken her around the world and seen her work published in prestigious magazines like Vogue, Le Monde, British Journal of Photography and Dazed, to name a few.

Oumayma is known for her commitment to documenting community dynamics. Her work examines questions of belonging and home, shedding light on marginalized individuals and groups while celebrating their differences. In her photographic practice, she seeks to involve the viewer in her subject’s emotional life and to personalize individuals who could otherwise be seen as strangers.

Currently, Oumayma is working on her first book of photographs, a highly anticipated project slated for publication in 2025. This project reflects her desire to share an intimate and thoughtful perspective on her own journey, especially her reconciliation with exile, while exploring her deep connection to her native Tunisia.

Noire Mouliom • Photograph

Noire Mouliom, a passionate Montreal-based photographer, specializes in creative and commercial portraits with a penchant for intimate close-ups. Blending artistic and corporate photography, her unique style swiftly captures fleeting moments. A 2020 Commercial Photography graduate majoring in Portrait Photography, Noires work graces publications like the Montreal Guardian, Black Joy MTL, Canadian Business, and CBC. Recognized as a finalist in The Lens Culture black and white photography category, her contributions were featured in the Côte-des-Neiges outdoor exhibition for community activism in 2022. In 2023, Noire collaborated with BeCurious, supporting Black Entrepreneurs of Montreal, and led a photography workshop for Éduconnexion to encourage local youth. Praised for celebrating universal beauty and challenging colonialist standards, her work encapsulates genuine smiles, emotions, and compelling stories. 

Yang Shi • Creative director

Yang Shi is a Montreal-based creative director, photographer, and writer with over six years of experience in fashion, design, and advertising. Born in China, she has always embraced her outsider perspective, transforming it into a powerful creative force. Her work is characterized by a deep commitment to exploring the intersections of fashion and sustainability, an area where she continuously seeks to innovate and inspire. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for storytelling, she is dedicated to producing work that not only captivates but also challenges the status quo, making her a distinctive voice in contemporary creative circles.