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TUESDAY

Maybe it’s our culture’s accelerating visual acuity, but our appetite for the high-end fashion world—the faces, personalities, labels, and machinations in the couture spotlight—seems to have become nearly insatiable. In Runway Madness, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post photographer Lucian Perkins and fashion writer Robin Givhan take us on a breezy backstage run through New Yorks’ Fashion Week that captures the unguarded moments beneath the airbrushed veneer of the glossies. A glimpse behind the curtain of glamour and ritual reveals something unexpectedly human, but hardly raw. It’s no surprise that the beautiful people are still beautiful when caught lounging or injecting spontaneity into a catwalk sortie. Perkins can’t strip away the seduction, but he does have a fresh angle. His photographs capture the interaction of the major players: photographer, designer, buyer, model, and…costume. The most arresting images show where sexuality and commerce intersect. Givhan’s selected quotes from inside the industry ripple across the images, suggesting numerous interpretations. The combination of candid photos and off-the-cuff commentary are neither mocking nor reverent, illustrating fashion’s contradictions and its magnetic appeal. The biz is shown to be at once absurd and overblown, but also reflective of current mainstream notions of femininity and individuality. Fashion’s spectacle has become so pervasive that an experienced perspective like Perkins’ is needed to untangle it all. Occasionally, though, Madness reveals the attitude that keeps insiders’ heads together—they’re only clothes, after all. Perkins’ photographs are on exhibit to Sept. 26 at Govinda Gallery, 1227 34th St. NW. Free. (202) 333-1180; and from Wednesday, Sept. 23, to Nov. 15 at the Newseum, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. Free. (703) 284-3544. He’ll give a slide-illustrated lecture, followed by a book-signing and reception, and introduced by Givhan, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23, at the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s Hammer Auditorium, 17th & New York Ave. NW. $15. (202) 639-1770. (John Dugan)