Before A-list party photos could be shared instantaneously through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, we depended on legendary party photographer Patrick McMullan to capture all the glamorous fun on his professional-grade camera. He partied with Andy Warhol at Studio 54, snapped supermodels on and off the runway, and took that famous spontaneous, pre-"Titanic" pic of baby-faced Leonardo DiCaprio and his Pussy Posse (remember them?).
McMullan has also captured many an enigmatic and glamorous fashion editor, sitting frow at Fashion Week and mingling with various A-listers at elite parties — and all of this has been documented in "The Face of Fashion" exhibit, which opened Wednesday at the Hearst Gallery in New York.
In it, you'll find the most spirited moments of subjects in their element, from celebs at the spring 2015 Tommy Hilfiger NYFW runway show, to Elle editor-in-chief Robbie Myers taking the most alluring elevator ride ever, to beloved late Harper's Bazaar editor-in-chief Liz Tilberis sandwiched between Kate Moss and a "Ray of Light"-era Madonna.
"That kind of women and men always excited me," said McMullan, who was actually happily photographing guests his own party. "Photographers want to follow the star around, but to me it’s the fashion person — the person that’s really dressed — that is exciting, and if it’s a little wrong, that’s great. I’ve seen people who are a little wrong but then six months later, everybody's doing that."
McMullan has lots of memories to pull from (most thankfully documented in print), including his time in the '80s spent with the original supes. "I always think of Claudia Schiffer at one of the Versace parties and they all had the big hair and the big heels," he reminisces. "And when they would walk into a room — those girls all made up, all Versace’d out — I mean, we’re not talking about a shrinking violet. I’m talking about a long stem rose."
McMullan has been working tirelessly since the days of Studio 54, so he's watched and experienced the digital and internet age advance first-hand. And, you know, what? He's more than happy to take a #selfie with you, but he does have a few issues to take up with the engineers over at Apple.
"I have a camera and a job and someone will hand me their cell phone," he says, about people requesting a selfie with him. "Now if the flash isn’t on, it’s always out of focus and my hand shakes [while taking the selfie] and I’ve done this 50 times and it’s always out of focus and then they say take another one. It takes all of like 10 minutes almost to do these because of the delay. My camera is like this [quickly takes a photo with a flash]: CLICK ! So I’m used to going quick and these things are like forever."
He also has advice for asking celebrities for selfies: "I think that [selfies] are very valid and it’s a great way to have memories," McMullan says. "Have a camera that actually takes the picture fairly quick because then celebrities — it’s annoying for them and they don’t want to be rude to fans. The other thing that’s bad about the selfies is without a flash you don't when [taking the photo] is over."
You can find the photographer and his craft on Instagram in not one, but two places: @PatrickMcMullan (the company) and @paddyboymcmullan (his personal). While he might not realize it, McMullan — being the detail oriented, dedicated photographer that he is — is super into #latergrams. "I still sometimes do my Instagram from the computer," he explains. "I download the picture and make sure everybody looks good, because I can’t tell when it’s that small whether they look good. So I’ll do the Instagram from the computer where I can see and I can spell because I can’t spell. The spell correct makes everything wrong." Preach, sir, preach.