The Palais Galliera is rich in a collection of 30,000 pictures covering the period from the 1870s up to the present day.
The photographic collections of the City of Paris Fashion Museum not only retrace the history of fashion photography, clothes and the great couture houses, but also look into the ways fashion has been publicized and the ways in which the human body has been represented throughout time. Two major types of photography emerge from this mass of material :
. The first is strictly professional and intended to document and protect garment models: collection albums from Carven and Jacques Heim; photos for late 19th-century magazine illustrators; copyright registration images to prevent piracy, especially in the 1920s and 1930s; plus press prints from the 1950s up until now, issued by the fashion houses to publicise each new collection; slides of haute couture and ready to wear parades from the 1980s to the 2000s, including the archives of photographer Jean-Louis Coulombel.
. The second type is more directly aimed at press promotion and catching the eye of potential buyers. In the past these images – used in leading magazines, fashion house catalogues and advertising campaigns – were often the work of top studios and fashion photographers like Reutlinger, Scaioni, Dorvyne, d’Ora, Kollar, Meyer and Beaton, and featured such well known models and actresses as Génia de Gorlenko, Ann-Emily Lacey and Nelly Martyl.
The early photography is complemented by the work of leading contemporary practitioners including Sarah Moon, Peter Knapp, Corinne Day, Juergen Teller, Miles Aldridge and Marcus Tomlinson.
The Henry Clarke collection :
In 1997 the City of Paris accepted the legacy of Henry Clarke (1918–1996) for the Musée Galliera. The bequest comprises of 26,000 items including negatives, slides, contact sheets and prints.
The American photographer made the museum the sole holder of rights to his images. Henry Clarke arrived in Paris in 1949 and began working for Fémina, Album du Figaro and Harper’s Bazaar. In 1950 he signed an exclusive contract with the French, English and American editions of Vogue: a collaboration with Condé Nast publishers that would last more than 30 years. As a gift from Clark's residual legatee, the Institut Pasteur, the museum has also received his photographic equipment, all the publications his work appeared in, around a hundred books on fashion and photography, and his archives, which notably included his correspondence with Diana Vreeland, editor in chief at Vogue in the 1960s.