Being the wife of a Barneys New York executive certainly has its perks--like, say, snagging your well-connected husband's 'plus one' invite to industry insider events that most people only dream of attending.
Sharon Socol--wife of Howard Socol, who served as Barneys’s CEO from 2001 to 2008--used that exclusive access to her advantage and then some. Toting a 35mm loaded with black and white film, Socol, an avid photographer since age seven, snapped behind-the-scenes photos of fashion shows, parties, and some of the industry's most legendary characters.
Recently, she compiled those photos into a book titled Plus One: An Outsider’s Photographic Journey Into the World of Fashion--the release of which garnered a crowd of fashion's elite last night on Barneys's 9th floor.
“I think it’s so refreshing to see an outsider’s perspective,” explained Narciso Rodriguez, one of the evening’s hosts, “We appreciate and love all of the photographs taken by fashion photographers, but Sharon’s view is very different, it’s very impressive.”
A consolidated look at Socol’s unique view on the fashion world, the book presents a unique perspective that’s not typical of seasoned fashion photogs. It explores the industry’s raw, over-the-top humor with a sense of unabashed honesty. “I love looking at Sharon’s work because I think she captures something very unique about fashion,” explained Barneys’s creative ambassador-at-large Simon Doonan, “Because she comes from an outsider’s perspective she sees it for the quirky idiosyncratic circus that it is. She’s captured that with the objectivity of an outsider.”
While the book focuses on fashion, it’s still quite relatable to people outside of the industry. “There’s something very empathetic about it,” said Doonan, “People will relate to it even if they’re not in fashion because the pictures that she focused on are pictures that are intrinsically beautiful.”
As Socol explained, a book was never part of her grand plan. “I knew I was never going to write a novel so it had to be this,” she told us. She came up with the idea while she was archiving her work and making the switch from film to digital. "Someone said to me ‘You really have a body of work’ and sometimes things find a nexus and cross," she said. "I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.”
Doonan’s photo, along with Rodriguez, Giorgio Armani, Alber Elbaz, Bill Cunningham, and Karolina Kurkova (among many others), are all included in the book’s pages. “I even wish I was on the cover!” Doonan exclaimed.
Click through for photos of the release party, as well as some of Socol's photographs from Plus One: An Outsider’s Photographic Journey Into the World of Fashion.