Striking – this is the word that comes to mind when one looks at the work of Nadia Lee Cohen. A relatively young contender in the photography sphere, she is already managing to create ripples with her larger than life portraits. Her signature style – featuring strong, voluptuous women who dominate the images in which they are part – is in welcome contrast to the wallflower waifs our popular culture continuously creates today. Glamorous, bold and powerful in their femininity, Lee Cohen’s modern Amazonians don’t ask, but demand a second look.
It is in this unforgiving femininity that Lee Cohen clearly finds her muse. Based in Brighton, she finds her inspiration in 1960’s filmmakers such as Hitchcock and Russ Meyers. A sense of both power and sensuality is intrinsically linked to the female form, manifesting itself in large heaving bosoms and hourglass figures. Far from one dimensional however, her protagonists also emit a sense of vulnerability alongside their strength, a mixture that manages take Lee Cohen past the status of photographer and into the role of storyteller – an enviable combination.
Using a superficial aesthetic as a base in which to tell a more intricate narrative, her images have a Stepford Wives element – the stifling conformity of suburbia in a constant battle with sexual escapism. Consumerist goods feature heavily, iconic brands and labels making regular cameos as birds flutter and emotions are abound. The revival and growing popularity of theatrical movements such as Burlesque appears to have had an underlying influence, lending a sense of both drama and personality to each image, translating into thick makeup, manicured nails and statement wigs. The fashion element of her work is also hard to ignore, partly in thanks both to her styling background and her London College of Fashion education (she is currently studying for a masters in fashion photography here), but she admits to being more drawn toward art photography creatively. As much as we love fashion we’re partly glad to hear this – her artistic take on fashionable women is one that has long been overdue.
Words by Olivia Cooley. Images courtesy of Nadia Lee Cohen.