Joana Biarnés’ fashion exhibited in Madrid

Today that Joana Biarnés is already recognized as an essential figure in the history of photography in the  Iberian peninsula, it is also necessary to rediscover her look at the world of fashion. Because the first female photojournalist in Spain was also the female pioneer in fashion photography in the same country and even one of the first internationally.

Its significance in this sector is proven by the exhibition Joana Biarnés. Madrid / Moda a pie de calle (“Joana Biarnés, Madrid / Fashion in the streets”), which is held from February 28 to July 23, 2023 at the Sala Canal de Isabel II,  in Madrid, organized by the Comunidad de Madrid (The Madrid Regional Authority) and curated by the fashion expert Josep Casamartina, with the collaboration of Photographic Social Vision Foundation and Cottet Óptica.

Lourdes Albert and other mannequins on the Gran Via, in an editorial for Herrero and Rodero, Madrid, October 1967

The exhibition includes more than a hundred pictures that present the evolution of fashion and society in a time of significant changes, from the end of the 1950s to the beginning of the 1970s.

Photographic report “Moncho Street”, Don Ramón de la Cruz St., published in the newspaper Pueblo, Madrid, January 18, 1968

Biarnés was a reporter of the radical evolution that took place in clothing, from the classicism of haute couture to the informality of prêt-à-porter. She collaborated with famous names in Spain’s haute couture such as Miguel Rueda, Antonio Nieto or Juanjo Rocafort, in addition to monitoring the presence in Madrid of Mary Quant and Paco Rabanne or the influence that André Courrèges would exert from Paris, in the neighboring country that the photographer also had the opportunity to visit at the time.

Every Friday there will be guided tours to the exhibition and on March 16 there will be a digital meeting with representatives of the Photographic Foundation, who will reveal the importance of the Joana Biarnés Archive.

In the book edited by Blume and accompanying the exhibition, there is a foreword by specialist photographer Manuel Outumuro in which he explains how Richard Avedon, encouraged by the art director of Harper’s Bazaar magazine, decides in the fifties to take the models out of the studio to portray them on urban stages. His experiment exerted a great influence among young photographers who were beginning to develop their careers in the fashion industry. Among these new values, we find William Klein and Joana Biarnés, both good connoisseurs of everything related to shooting outdoors. Outumuro believes that “In some way, their optics could be soul mates, because they both started on the street, precisely where clothing becomes the protagonist”.


Actress and model Rosanna Yanni, with Op Art make-up, at the Hippodrome of La Zarzuela, Madrid, 1965

When Joana entered the world of glamour, she had already been working as a photojournalist for some time, a profession she started in along with her father. Her work for fashion would begin in Barcelona at the end of the fifties, although it was particularly intense when she moved to Madrid, between 1962 and 1972.

As Joana herself explained, it all started in 1959, when the journalist Pilar de Abia, director of La Moda en España, asked her to collaborate with reports in this magazine published in Madrid. At the same time, she began to receive commissions from knitwear and swimwear brands, while the important haute couture couturier Asunción Bastida commissioned images of her collections, just as other couturiers would soon do as Vargas Ochagavía and Lino Martínez from Madrid.

Mannequin in a paper dress made from Pueblo newspaper pages, Madrid, ca. 1967

In 1963, Emilio Romero, director of the newspaper Pueblo, offered she a job as a photojournalist and Joana settled in Madrid, which began an extraordinary collaboration that would last almost ten years and gave rise to perhaps the best of her photographic production.

Her journalistic work was excellent, but in her editorial sessions for Pueblo newspaper. Joana felt much more creative, because when she was involved in fashion she had a much more active role. This is how the photographer discovers the pleasure of shooting images that she herself had created and provoked. She chose styling, themes, locations, models… Sometimes, she even contributed some garments of her own! Joana liked to be fashionable and enjoyed leafing through European magazines, which clearly influenced the way she dressed and looked. In a time of dictatorship in Spain, she had access to all that by spending seasons in France with the family of her husband, the journalist Jean Michel Bamberger.

Lourdes Albert, on the right, with two other mannequins with Antonio Nieto apparel on the steps of the Palacio de la Bolsa. Madrid, April 1967

Joana treated fashion with the same closeness and sincerity as the rest of the subjects she documented, and this is one of the main contributions to the genre. In the area of fashion, so given to fantasies and sophistication, she often placed the models on the street, in a natural way, avoiding lavish or extravagant settings and she knew how to capture the essence of her time like no one else.

At that time, portraying a model in the middle of the streets of Madrid was a provocation. And in her desire to be a documentary witness to the first signs of openness in Franco’s Spain, Biarnés also captured in her fashion pictures the reaction of stunned men and speechless women. It was her way of betting on a certain relaxation of society, and the perception of a panorama wich she contributed to with a visual dose of joy, mischievousness and freshness.


Reviewing in depth and collecting fashion photography by Joana Biarnés was a project long cherished by the curator of the exhibition, Josep Casamartina and by Joana herself.

Joana Biarnés at Atocha station. Decade of the 70s

They started working on it years ago, with the collaboration of Photographic Social Vision and thanks to the interest shown by the Centre d’Art Tarragona and the city council of that same city, with the participation as well of the City Council of Terrassa, hometown of Biarnés.

Unfortunately, the unexpected death of the photographer in 2018 prevented her from seeing it realized. However, the enthusiasm she had shown for this project encouraged the rest of the team and entities involved to continue the hard work. Thus, in 2019 a first exhibition was inaugurated in Tarragona, which in 2020 also traveled to Terrassa.

That initial work has been redoubled, finally encompassing a review of more than 25,000 negatives, as well as a selection of all those pictures that transcended mere functional assignments , choosing those that contributed long-lasting elements, both in quality and at a conceptual level, according with the best of its author, being an excellent contribution to both the history of fashion and that of photography.

And it is now, when Joana’s dream is more than fulfilled, when it finally arrives in Madrid, in a revised and expanded form, including thirty additional images and even some of the garment that appears in the pictures, true collector’s pieces.

This sheds light on an essential but little-known part of the Biarnes’Archive. Today, Joana would feel immensely happy and proud to share her contribution to fashion photography in Madrid, the main scene of her photographic production in the field of fashion and the city that provided her with the perfect setting and context to develop her look and wit.


Lucía Bosé, dressed as George Sand, during the filming of “Un inviernoen Mallorca”, by Jaime Camino. Mallorca, 1969.

Simultaneosly, also in Madrid and until March 25, at the Galeria Blanca Berlin you can enjoy a selection of Biarnés works for sale, which complements the exhibition Un don innato(“An innate gift”), dedicated to Ramón Masats, who was Joana’s friend and mentor.

This is the first time that copies of Joana Biarnés have been put up for sale in Madrid. We remember that the profits from the exploitation of her archive are intended to promote the future of photojournalism by the author’s express wish, the result of her great generosity and concern for the state of the sector. For this reason, the Photographic Social Vision Foundation, which safeguards her legacy and spreads the work of the first Spanish woman photojournalist, has created as a  tribute the Beca Joana Biarnés, a scholarship for young photojournalists, which has been held annually since 2019.