Simon Doonan calls Sharon Socol ‘the Margaret Mead of Fashion;’ he couldn’t be more correct. Plus One is an anthropological study of the people and culture that make up the fashion industry, presented through photographs and shot exclusively on film in black and white, documenting Sharon Socol’s gaze, that of the participant observer.
Sharon shares her unique perspective, one, which for both audience and subject is intimate, captivating and at times, unexpected. For 8 years as the wife of Mr. Howard Socol’s (CEO of Barney’s New York, 2001-2008) Sharon, who describes herself as somewhat shy and not at all “in tune” with fashion, used her love of photography to manage the world of international style, high level celebrities and fast paced retail she was thrust into during her husband’s tenure. Now, Mr. Socol is retired and it is his wife, who was for so long was the nameless plus one, takes center stage.
Socol, an Indiana (Terre Haute) native recently embarked on a book tour promoting Plus One. With her roots in mind and family still in the area, Sharon presented her publication to a small, yet eager audience at Big Hat Books (one of my new favorite destinations) on Saturday (April 6) evening. Socol graciously posed for photos, signed copies of Plus One and treated the crowd with a thirty minute presentation. Sharon talked about her budding love of photography, provided anecdotes about her time as a “Plus One” and discussed her experience producing her now, very popular book.
Standing at about 5 feet tall, Socol joked that her height provided the distinctive point of view offered in the book, but really, it is her eye, her compassion and her instinct that allowed Socol to create beautiful, touching images of people, whose faces you’ve likely seen a hundred times, in a new light. But I think it is important to note, Socol was not just interested in capturing the infamous, but rather moments of light and line, and unforeseen moments of beauty. Therefore, littered among images of designers such as Zac Posen and Abler Elbaz, readers are treated to images of waiters, models, and drivers. In my opinion, these unanticipated moments, capturing the anonymous represent some of the Socol’s best work. Because you see, like any cultural anthropologist, for Sharon it is not the person in which she is interested, it is the people.
For more on Sharon and Plus One:
Photographs by Sharon Socol