These Nostalgic Photos Celebrate The Girls Of Manchester

Photographed by Dean Davies.
In Dean Davies’ Manchester Girls, teenagers dressed in tracksuits and new trainers or sequin dresses and stilettos mingle excitedly in front of the lens. Attending to each others’ hairstyles for final checks, adjusting belts and clustering together for friendship group shots, they pose with both determination and vulnerability before a backdrop of Manchester’s housing estates. The project is a collaboration between Davies and his stylist friend Vicky Olschak. "It’s a photographic ode to the women of both mine and Vicky’s upbringings, featuring women who live in the city today," Davies explains, "a celebration of women, style and friendship, and a city and region that has shaped us." 
 
Davies grew up in Birkenhead in Merseyside in northwest England. He traced a journey to photography through studying design and styling first, all of which still feeds into the way he thinks about making images. "I’ve always been inspired by what people wear, and how this can communicate their character. Similarly, how photographing people in a certain location can further communicate a narrative and allow the viewer to start making associations with what they are seeing." He had a camera in his teenage years and used it to take pictures of his friends, but it was only six or seven years ago that he began to take the process more seriously. "I started first by featuring friends and family within my photography, which then progressed to featuring people specifically from the northwest, to tell my experiences of growing up in the region," he says. 
 
The pictures are tinged with a '90s nostalgia that any millennial would recognise. "I’m 30 now, so I was a child, and then a teenager, of the 1990s and early 2000s, and this is reflected in the references to fashion of that time within the styling. Fashion image-making was the best medium for me to communicate my ideas, and for embedding my story within the work." Stylist Olschak grew up on one of the very estates that feature in the photographs. Beginning the project in late 2017, the duo is now working towards releasing a book of the series later this month. 
"Manchester is my favourite city," Davies explains warmly, "and it has been a great source of inspiration to me, heavily featuring in my work over the last 4-5 years." Here, he tells Refinery29 about collaborating with Olschak, finding faces that tell stories, and his admiration for the girls who made the project.

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