Rose Hartman, a famed fashion and celebrity photographer, arrived to the world premiere of a documentary about her life like she does everything else—in style. Hartman’s perhaps most well- known photograph is that of Bianca Jagger riding a white stallion into Studio 54 for her birthday party in 1977. In a life imitating art move, Hartman also rode a white horse to her film’s premiere at the SXSW Film Festival!
The film, The Incomparable Rose Hartman, directed by Otis Mass, details the astonishing career that this iconic woman had. This portrait of a woman behind the lens is a revealing exploration that begins in a tough childhood upbringing of Hartman’s. The audience gets to see how this tiny force of nature woman became the eccentric, occasionally aggressive, brilliant artist with an exceptional eye for beauty.
Hartman made her career in the fashion world of the Seventies and Eighties, when the industry was dominated by males and goes on spanning over 40 years of her life. Featuring a lot of never before seen footage, backstage access, and fascinating interviews with the subject herself, one gets to experience the New York celebrity fashion scene in a new light and serves as a slice of New York visual history, as well as getting an intimate look into the burgeoning of the star power culture, like her older spur of the moment snapshot of Madonna.
The film addresses Hartman’s acclaimed body of work collected in the glossy tome titled Incomparable Couples, which is a collection of extraordinary couples: artists and their muses, designers and their families, mothers and children, friendships, lovers, pets, redefining what the word “couple” means. Some of the celebrity couples that Hartman photographed are Jery Hall and Annie Leibovitz, Bob Mackie and Cher, Claudia Schiffer and Valentino, Jean Paul Gautier and Lauren Bacall, Donatella Versace and Naomi Campbell, Bianca and Jade Jagger, Lily and Kate Moss, Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono, Liz Taylor and her dog, Iman and David Bowie, and many others. But Hartman always remained the most incomparable of all her subjects.
The film also contains a number of Hartman’s famous friends and fashion industry admirers of her work, like Carolina Herrera and Donna Karan, as well as New York socialites and her own family.
Be sure not to miss this worthy examination of a woman whose boisterous presence on the cultural scene has left an undeniable photographic mark!
For a behind-the-scenes look, check out Sunny & Mild's VNR from the night of the film'e world premiere here. All footage courtesy of The Artists Company.