Tilda Swinton: A tribute in pictures

It’s difficult to express in words how Tilda Swinton embodies style. In her fashion shoots, Swinton presents herself as ethereal, androgynous and with a defiant of “the conventional expectations of feminine emotional expressiveness and legibility”, a property that Jackie Stacey describes as the “flat affect” [1].

For Swinton, departures from the feminine ideal are familiar. Her role in Sally Potter’s Orlando (an adaptation of Virginia Wolf’s novel), for example, required Swinton to don both male and female costumes. Swinton herself (2009) expresses doubt that gender “really exists”, instead preferring to think of her identity as transformable. In an interview with W Magazine, she describes how she admired her father’s wardrobe: “From childhood, I remember more about his black patent, gold livery, scarlet-striped legs, and medal ribbons than I do of my mother’s evening dresses,” she says. “I would rather be handsome, as he is, for an hour than pretty for a week”[2].

She brought this androgyny to her role as face of the Pringle of Scotland womenswear collection in Spring/Summer 2010, and then their menswear line the following season (A/W 2010), for which she adopted masculine poses.

Swinton is renowned for her chameleonic performances, but her transformations do more than demonstrate her flexibility as an actor. They express a desire to embrace the beauty and mystery of style, art and fashion without being limited by preconceptions about how she, and her body, might fit. I hope to capture a hint of the ethereal versatility that is Tilda in this collection of images:

Tilda Swinton photographed by Tim Walker for W Magazine.

Tilda Swinton photographed by Tim Walker for W Magazine.

Tilda Swinton photographed by Tim Walker for W Magazine.

Tilda Swinton photographed by Tim Walker for W Magazine.

Tilda Swinton for Pringle of Scotland (menswear)

Tilda Swinton for Pringle of Scotland (menswear)

Few female actors are so frequently photographed without eye make-up, particularly for a beauty shot.

Few female actors are so frequently photographed without eye make-up, particularly for a beauty shot.

Tilda Swinton photographed by Tim Walker at the Menil Collection for W Magazine

Tilda Swinton photographed by Tim Walker at the Menil Collection for W Magazine

Viktor & Rolf designed their Fall 2003 collection in collaboration with Tilda Swinton, who models it here alongside an army of models made up to look like her doppelgangers.

Viktor & Rolf designed their Fall 2003 collection in collaboration with Tilda Swinton, who models it here alongside an army of models made up to look like her doppelgangers.

Tilda Swinton photographed by Fabio Lovino.

Tilda Swinton photographed by Fabio Lovino.

Tilda Swinton and David Bowie, who co-stared in Bowie's video for 'The Stars (Are Out Tonight)'.

Tilda Swinton and David Bowie, who co-stared in Bowie’s video for ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’.

Tilda Swinton for Pringle of Scotland (2013).

Tilda Swinton for Pringle of Scotland. AAA

Tilda Swinton wears Hussein Chalayan (she also appeared in a short-film made by Chalayan, entitled Absent Presence).

Tilda Swinton wears Hussein Chalayan (she also appeared in a short-film made by Chalayan, entitled Absent Presence).

Tilda Swinton by Jean-Baptiste Mondino

Tilda Swinton by Jean-Baptiste Mondino

Tilda Swinton in 'Snowpiercer'.

Tilda Swinton in ‘Snowpiercer’.

Tilda Swinton as Orlando.

Tilda Swinton as Orlando.

Tilda Swinton interacts with other people's clothes in her art performance, 'Cloakroom', one of three collaborations with Olivier Saillard.

Tilda Swinton interacts with other people’s clothes in her art performance, ‘Cloakroom’, one of three collaborations with Olivier Saillard.

Tilda Swinton possessively clutches a coat worn by Napoleon Bonaparte, which she was entrusted to handle for 'Impossible Wardrobes'.

Tilda Swinton possessively clutches a coat worn by Napoleon Bonaparte, which she was entrusted to handle for ‘Impossible Wardrobes’.

Tilda Swinton and Olivier Saillard create a dress on stage, for 'Eternity Dress'.

Tilda Swinton and Olivier Saillard create a dress on stage, for ‘Eternity Dress’.

References:

1.) Stacey, Jackie (2015), “Crossing over with Tilda Swinton—the Mistress of “Flat Affect,” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society (2015): 1-29.

2.) Solway, Diane (2011), “Planet Tilda,” W Magazine [online].

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3 thoughts on “Tilda Swinton: A tribute in pictures

  1. Thank you for a wonderful photo-essay! I just adore Tilda Swinton’s whole everything. Currently (and for the whole last year) in love with her as Eve in Only Lovers Left Alive.

    • Thank you Senjiva! Isn’t Tilda marvelous? There is so much more I would have liked to write but I had to save it for an article that will be published elsewhere (Bloomsbury Fashion Archives). While writing this I discovered that that Olivier Saillard and Tilda Swinton have written a book about their collaborations which is due out later this year – I expect I’ll do a follow-up blog post when I’ve read it!

  2. Pingback: Inside Molly’s Head, Vol. 2 | Toferet's Empty Bobbin

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