Fashion, as any fan of Project Runway could tell you, is fickle. What’s in style one minute is out of style the next. But there’s one thing that never goes out of style, especially in some parts of the world: protection. Part of a new exhibition at the International Center of Photography in New York embraces this idea. It’s a series of pictures shot by Peruvian photographer Milagros de la Torre. Those pictures feature some fancy clothes that carry a secret. The World’s Alex Gallafent caught up with de la Torre, and produced this audio slideshow.
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MARCO WERMAN: I’m Marco Werman. This is the World. Here’s some news from the runway, the fashion runway, that is. Germany’s highest-circulation women’s magazine says that, next year, it will stop working with professional models. Instead, it’ll favor women with bodies more like those of its readers. Brigitte magazine says its photos of women will focus more on their identity than on any protruding bones. Of course, fashion trends come and go, but one thing that’s never going to go out of fashion is protection. The World’s Alex Gallafent is in New York, and Alex, what do I mean by that?
ALEX GALLAFENT: Marco, there’s a show here I’m going to tell you about. It features, amongst other things, photos– it’s a photo exhibition– of high-end clothing, but it’s clothing with a protective secret.
WERMAN: And what is the protective secret?
GALLAFENT: Well, it’s secret that I’m going to let you in onto immediately, so it’s not much of a secret. But the secret is that all these clothes are all bulletproof.
WERMAN: So they’re bulletproof clothes, and they’re in photographs. Where are the photographs being shown?
GALLAFENT: They’re being shown at the International Center of Photography, which is here in New York City. Every three years, it holds a big triennial exhibition, which tends to be a very international affair. This year, there are 34 artists from 18 different countries exhibiting photos. One of them is Milagros de la Torre. She’s Peruvian born. She’s a photographer that now divides her time between here, New York, and Mexico City. But the clothes themselves, they come from Colombia.
MILAGROS DE LA TORRE: Through research, I found out that the producer is a Colombian called Miguel Caballero. He has been named the Armani of the armored clothing. He’s having his business expanded, not only in Latin America, but all over, even in Afghanistan. And, you know, he’s really doing quite well.
WERMAN: Okay, so the clothes come from the Armani of the armored clothing world, but who’s wearing them? People on the receiving end possibly of bullets?
GALLAFENT: Well, I mean, all sorts of people. I think one of the ideas behind bulletproof clothing is that you don’t know that someone’s wearing it. It’s kind of concealed. But, you know, she says businesspeople, politicians in particular. And it was also reported , not necessarily confirmed, that President Obama wore items from the line during his inauguration. And even if that’s not true, it all adds to the mystique fashion brands like this like to build around themselves, especially if they’ve got armor plating hidden in the middle.
WERMAN: Mm, you’ve whetted my appetite. I want to see this. There’s a slideshow online, right?
GALLAFENT: Yes, it’s up at the world.org, and you can see Milagros de la Torre’s photos of the clothes there, and hear my conversation with her too. And you really should see the clothes, some of which kind of defy belief when you remember that this, I don’t know, a light summer shirt is bulletproof.
MILAGROS DE LA TORRE: They’re not very conspicuous. They don’t shout out loud what their real purpose is.
WERMAN: Yeah, they’d better not shout out loud. And you can see the slideshow online, that’s at theworld.org. The World’s Alex Gallafent in New York. Thank you so much, Alex.
GALLAFENT: Sure thing Marco.
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