Believe it or not, there are days in the year where absolutely nothing happened in fashion history (i.e. we weren’t able to dig something up). On those days we offer Fashion Flashbacks, the stories behind great layouts, people and covers from vintage magazines from this month, rather than from this day. And if you know about a great moment in fashion history that fell on this date, tell us about it!
You know that when a model literally faints during a photo shoot that the photographer is either a sadistic slave driver or girlfriend is working it. In Veruschka’s case for the now-legendary July 1968 shoot for Vogue, the photographer was her boyfriend at the time, Franco Rubartelli, and she was posing for his camera in the middle of Arizon’s Painted Desert—in fur. Finger pointers could turn an eye toward editor Diana Vreeland, a woman who never settled for mediocre and challenged her staff at Vogue to reach beyond the expected. The shoot in the desert was one such Vreeland inspiration: She envisioned the blonde glamazon standing in the brutal landscape wrapped in a kaleidoscope of textiles, none of which started as actual clothing. Vreeland figured her latest discovery, Giorgio di Sant’Angelo, a young stylist and accessories designer who had strived for years to get the attention of the editrix, was up for the job of creating something fabulous from nothing.
“We had nothing but some yards of fabric, some stones and some ropes,” Veruschka recalled to New York Magazine in 2002. Sant’ Angelo was not yet a fashion designer, but he transformed the fabric, stones and ropes into epic, high fashion. He had been working as a stylist alongside legendary Vogue fashion editor Polly Mellen after a colleague saw Sant’Angelo’s collection of colored Lucite jewelry and showed them to Vreeland in 1965. (Shortly after, the jewelry was featured on a cover of Vogue, and the designer was crafting original ideas right on set as Richard Avedon clicked away.) But despite having little experience creating garments, for Vreeland’s desert shoot Sant’Angelo created fabulous, jaw-dropping ensembles in lustrous, vibrant jewel tones. The effect was unforgettable.
Of all the images, the one of Veruschka swaddled in fur is the most iconic. The model had been up since 6 a.m. and was wearing the sheared mink turban under the noonday sun when the heat overwhelmed her. “At some point,” Veruschka told New York Magazine, “it must have been too much. I fainted — tipped over like a tree.”
Veruschka survived the fall, and Sant’Angelo became a celebrated sensation. Inspired, he debuted his first clothing collection less than a year later, a colorful homage to the styles of Gypsies and peasants that hearkened the wraps and tunics he created in the desert. Veruschka quit modeling in 1975, while Sant’Angelo continued to create clothes—some collections sang while others misfired—until his death in 1989. —Ali Basye