Photographer Bruce Weber at the opening of his show of Detroit photographs on Thursday at the Detroit Institute of Arts. (Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)
It’s not every day that Vogue editor Anna Wintour and celebrity fashion photographer Bruce Weber drop in at the Detroit Institute of Arts. So it comes as little surprise that the museum was all a-twitter Thursday morning.
The two reigning members of New York’s fashion aristocracy were at the museum to open “Detroit: Bruce Weber,” a show of work the photographer did in two visits to the city in 2006 and 2013.
“It’s wonderful to be here,” Wintour said, “having lived Detroit through Bruce’s eyes.” Like many visitors from the coasts, Wintour, who arrived Wednesday evening and stayed at the Westin Book-Cadillac, said she was struck by “the city’s incredible architecture.”
Perhaps more pertinent, given her position, Wintour said she was delighted Thursday morning to see throngs of Detroit schoolchildren whom she pronounced “very well dressed.”
The show, which was underwritten by the magazine empire Conde Nast, opens to the public Friday. In it, Weber captures a range of ordinary Detroiters, from kids in the MajikTouch Dance Co. to a youngster getting his hair cut at Shaw’s Grooming Center.
For his part, Weber has long been a Detroit enthusiast, starting with the 2006 photo shoot he did in the city with supermodel Kate Moss for W magazine. He returned in 2013 to shoot a campaign for Shinola.
In an earlier interview with The Detroit News, Weber said Detroiters vividly remind him of the small western Pennsylvania town where he grew up — remarkably friendly and always willing to lend a hand.
“People ask me what I feel about Detroit,” Weber said at the morning’s press conference. “This is what I feel — if I was ever in trouble, I would want someone from Detroit to be there with their dukes up, along with mine.”
He added that Detroiters “really lucked out in having such a significant museum in your midst, to say nothing of the Pistons, Red Wings and Tigers.”
DIA director Graham Beal acknowledged in public remarks that he was initially a little unsure whether the DIA should take the show, which had to be arranged with lightning speed unusual for a great museum.
“The lead time for exhibits is usually 2-10 years,” Beal said, “and this show was proposed just a few months ago. But I was charmed by Weber’s Detroit photographs, so we shifted into a seldom-used fifth gear.”
At noon Weber and Wintour were to attend the museum’s annual “100 Women For the Arts” luncheon in the great hall, where Weber would speak.