Every story must be “accomplished and perfect”, i.e. it has to have unity of action: beginning, execution and an end.

At least that’s what Aristotle said in his Poetics. More than the nice clothes and models, what strikes me in the fashion shows is this odd theatrical dimension: all the action is finalized by the accomplishment of the fashion show itself; there is no time or space for diversions. Models, photographers, hairdressers, stylists, make-up artists, even the public seem to lose their private identities to become actors in a common plot.

In the beginning the story is slow, everybody seems to be just waiting and there’s a vivid sense of something that has to happen; then the action suddenly becomes hectic and frenzied, usually ending in a ritual of triumph and liberation.

Fashion shows also respect the principle of unity of place: they all happen in the backstage, a closed and abstract place, a non-place which looks similar everywhere in the world. Unity of time is strictly respected too: a few hours for the set up, a few minutes for the show. Milan, Paris, London, New York, different clothes, different models, different photographers, but the shows resemble and they all tell their own story. A bit like Greek tragedies.

The “Backstage Diaries” collect five years of shooting in the backstages of Milan, Paris and New York. All the images have been shot on assignment for magazines such as T-The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair Italy, Max, A Magazine Curated By or directly for fashion brands (Giorgio Armani, Campari, Moroccanoil).

—Filippo Mutani

Editors’ note: Filippo Mutani is one of the 50 best emerging photographers for 2015, as voted by the eight-member international jury for the LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards 2015. Here is his winning entry and artist’s statement. View his profile to learn more about him and to see more of his great work.