Fashion Photographer Brian Duffy Helped London Swing

Fashion photographer Brian Duffy, who died on this day in 2010, abandoned his career—and fame and fortune—in 1979 for a life of obscurity. But for nearly 20 years he, along with friends David Bailey and Terence Donovan, helped London swing. The three men were coined the “Black Trinity” photographers, and together they documented the fresh, kicky, kooky world of fashion, music and sex through the 1960s and 70s, shooting models, musicians and celebrities in what have become some of that era’s most iconic images. At some point along the wild ride, Duffy became a bit of a celebrity himself. But in 1979, the photographer abruptly set fire to his entire collection of negatives and slides, quit his profession forever, and didn’t shoot another picture for nearly 30 years. Given that most of his photography was destroyed, Duffy’s images were largely forgotten. That changed in 2009, when his son, Chris, resurrected his father’s legacy and curated the first exhibition of Duffy’s work, one that included new images with many of his former subjects. Duffy died less than a year later. See a slideshow of Brian Duffy’s fashion photographs and watch Duffy: The Man Who Shot the Sixties, a documentary of his work, after the jump. Read More »

Celebrating the Anti-Fashion of William Klein: Qui Êtes-Vous, Polly Maggoo?

Given that today marks the birthday of reluctant fashion photographer William Klein, and given that Klein created a couple of the 1960s most memorable fashion images—despite (or because) of the fact that he was not a fan of the fashion world—I’m feeling like we should take another look back at Klein’s 1966 film, Qui Êtes-Vous, Polly Maggoo?. Klein’s kick at the fashion industry is so anti-fashion that the film actually became fashionable, in that above-it-all, masochistic style that is so inherent of the industry. On This Day In Fashion published a Cinemode of Polly Magoo on the 45th-anniversary of its release this past October 21. Here’s a snippet from author Cody Bay: “Fashionistas beware: This movie was made by someone who does not love fashion. One gets the sense early on, in the first scene of a fashion shoot where models are getting sliced up by the razor-sharp edges of their aluminum dresses, that this is someone who is pretty skeptical—okay, who detests—fashion. Who is this curmudgeonly scrooge, you say, what is the name and address of his first-born child and what the hell does he know anyway? His name, my dears, is William Klein, and… he had just spent the last 10 years as a photographer for Vogue, so actually, he knew his stuff indeed.” Read Cody’s full review here, and enjoy the fashion show from Polly Magoo and a bit of Klein’s print work after the jump. Read More »

They Took Manhattan and then Fashion: The Dynamic Duo of Jean Shrimpton and David Bailey

They were barely known in their home country of England and were nobodies in New York. But when photographer David Bailey and model Jean Shrimpton arrived in Manhattan on a cold January day in 1962, Vogue editor Diana Vreeland greeted them like long-awaited celebrities. “But they are adorable,” Vreeland cried. “England. Has. Arrived.” Bailey was still new to the fashion world and 18-year-old Shrimpton, a recent graduate of the Lucie Clayton Modelling School was, she remembers, “as green as a spring salad.” The pair had met less than a year earlier and worked well together on a shoot for Brides. A few months later they muscled their way into British Vogue, with Bailey agreeing to do the shoot only if the unknown Shrimpton was his model. The 14-page spread was a hit with readers, so the magazine took another risk and sent the pair to Manhattan, where a Youthquake culture was growing. “Young Idea Goes West,” the shots they took during their whirlwind week there, were published in the April 1, 1962 issue of British Vogue, and made the duo famous. They travelled with Read More »

Edward Steichen’s Foot Fetish?

On this day in 1973, which happened to be the day before his 94th birthday, the great American photographer Edward Steichen died in Connecticut. While his name is unfamiliar to many fans of fashion today, upon his death he was widely considered “the country’s most celebrated and highest-priced photographer…hailed as Read More »

Natural Envy: A History of the Color Green in Fashion

Google “green in fashion,” and you’ll get a ton of hits directing you to eco-friendly clothing. Earth-friendly fashion is a wonderful thing, but on St. Patrick’s Day I’d like to talk about green, as in no-finger-quotes-just-the-actual-color green. As seen in our earlier investigation of the color red, green is also a color with duplicitous meanings and weighty connotations. (I wonder if a seemingly innocent color such as pink also carries such complex histories and symbolism.)

Linguistically, green is related to the Old English verb, grōwan (“to grow, turn green”) and across cultures green is commonly associated with growth, regeneration, fertility and nature. Conversely, green is also used in reference to death, illness, envy and the devil. One iconic example is seen in Michaelangelo’s Last Judgement, where a pear-tinged Charon (the ferryman of Hades) is shown swatting the damned into Hell with his Read More »

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