Claire McCardell once named The High Priestess of Understatement (part 2)

17 Aug

Claire McCardell

Claire McCardell
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Claire McCardell was the founder of American ready-to-wear fashion, and in doing so defined what has become known as The American Look. She created casual but sophisticated clothes with a functional design, which reflected the lifestyles of American women. McCardell’s design philosophy was that clothes should be practical, comfortable, and feminine.

Claire addressed the subject of the great New York–Paris divide: “The basic difference,” she said, “is that we American women always look as if our feet were on the ground and European women mince.” She wasn’t speaking entirely metaphorically, either: She had popularized the ballet slipper as streetwear, when faced with leather shortages during the war; moreover, she built into her clothes “the McCardell slouch,” which she taught her models.

mcCardell-Time-1955

In 1955 Time Magazine published an article in which Claire McCardell’s designs were advertised “dresses that are as at home in the front seat of a station wagon as in the back seat of a Rolls, as comfortable in the vestibule of a motel as in the lobby of the Waldorf, as fitting for work in the office as for cocktails and dinner with the boss.” 

“Claire started the feeling for Americana,” Vogue’s Babs Simpson told Time. “I’ve always designed things I needed myself. It just turns out that other people need them, too,” Claire quoted.

Her clothes were functional and simple with clean lines. They were considered subtly sexy with functional decorations. She utilized details from men’s work clothing, such as large pockets, denim fabric, blue-jean topstitching, metal rivets and trouser pleats. The idea of separates, in coordinating colors and creating endless configurations was revolutionary, because of its practicality and economic.

Before Claire, noboddy dared to use jersey, rayon, calico, seersucker, gingham, and cotton voiles for evening wear. She loved easy and accessible fasteners in her clothing, from zippers, to toggles, to rope. Her Madras cotton halter-style full-length hostess gowns were shown for evening.

Life magazine

Life publishes photographs (by Mark Shaw) of Claire’s designs made of fabrics created by major artists, including Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall, in 1955.
Claire McCardell top and slacks with Pablo Pacasso's print, in his studio, 1955Picasso-print  ensemble  
 pablo picasso studio cannes 1955 mark shaw
Picasso-print  ensemble 
 Mark Shaw Marc Chagall in Studio, 1955 2
Marc Chagall-print dress 
Claire McCardell dress with print designed by Marc Chagall, 1955Marc Chagall-print dress 
Fernand Leger-print dress
Fernand Leger-print dress
mark shaw joan miro and model in studio 1955Joan Miro-print dress  
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Her design trademarks were double top-stitching, brass hardware replacing buttons with decorative hooks, spagetti ties, large patch pockets, and Empire waists. Claire also brought denim to the fashion forefront as a dress fabric, as well as mattress ticking, and wool fleece. Manmade fibers, too, were a source of innovation. She also loved leotards, hoods, pedal pushers, and dirndl skirts. Surprising color combinations were trademarks of Claire’s work. 

The beauty of her clothes lay in the cut which then produced a clean, functional garment. Her clothes accentuated the female form without artificial understructures and padding. Rather than use shoulder pads, McCardell used the cut of the sleeve to enhance the shoulder. Relying on the bias cut, she created fitted bodices and swimsuits which flattered the wearer. Full circle skirts, neatly belted or sashed at the waist without crinolines underneath, a mandatory accessory for the New Look, created the illusion of the wasp waist. The clothes often had adjustable components, such as drawstring necklines and waists, to accommodate many different body types…

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The American Look by Claire McCardell 

The American Look

The American Look

The American Look

The American Look

The American Look

The American Look

 

 Unfortunately, Claire’s life and work were cut short by a diagnosis of terminal colon cancer in 1957.  Many believed that she was just then reaching the height of her career, and yet, despite the prognosis, the designer worked feverishly to complete her final collection.  With the help of long-time friend and classmate at Parsons, Mildred Orrick, Claire completed her final collection from her hospital bed, getting up to alter the sketches when they were not to her liking. One of her brothers, Adrian, recalled how, “In spite of her impending death, anything coming out in her name she wanted to make sure was hers.” On the day of the show, Claire checked herself out of the hospital to personally introduce the collection.  Many fashion followers realized this would be her final showing and crowded New York City’s Pierre Hotel for the show, giving her a standing ovation at the conclusion.

 On March 22, 1958, at the age of 52, Claire McCardell passed away.

Claire McCardell

 “I’ve always designed things I needed myself. It just turns out that other people need them, too,”
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 McCardell’s innovations or “McCardellisms” 

Claire contributed many “firsts” to the world of American fashion.  Her revolutionary 1938 Monastic dress was certainly one such revolutionary innovation, as was her use of blue-jean stitching and trouser pleats and pockets in women’s clothing. Like the Monastic dress, the “popover” in 1942, a “wrap-around coverall in denim,” sold more than 75,000 copies in the first season alone and Claire included variations of the popover in every succeeding collection. She also modernized the dirndl skirt, a traditional German full skirt gathered at the waist, in 1938 and although it was not popular at first, variations of the dirndl skirt remain a popular clothing staple even today.  She was also the first to incorporate the “riveted look” using “work-clothes grippers for fasteners and ornamentation. As one of the most innovative bathing-suits designers around, she introduced diaper and bloomer silhouette.s

Claire gave American women a look that set them apart from the traditional Parisian influences and helped make the everyday, such as homemaker chores, fashionable and stylish. At the same time, her designs encouraged American women to wear clothes that flattered their individual bodies and were comfortable, not restrictive ((Claire was the sworn enemy of shoulder pads), therefore ushering in a new approach to American fashion and women’s clothing.

She also started a craze for dance flats (especially Capezio) to be worn on the streets and even under evening dresses!

 

 Sunglasses by Claire McCardell for Accessocraft

Accessocraft

Accessocraft

Accessocraft

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Exhibitions

Three Women – Madeleine Vionnet, Claire McCardell, Rei Kawakubo

three_women_vionnet_mccardell_kawakubo_fit_1987_0

1987, exhibition in FIT-Fashion Institute of Technology-Museum: Curator: Richard Martin.

Due to this exhibition, the three designers work earned them a special award in 1987 from the Council of Fashion Designers of America

http://www.amazon.com/Three-Women-Madeleine-McCardell-Kawakubo/dp/B0044PP6O2

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Claire McCardell: Redefining Modernism”

redefining modernism

1998, exhibition opens at F.I.T. “In McCardell’s honest clothes,” publicist Eleanor Lambert writes, “you see the women of the Plains in a completely modern idiom.”

http://www.amazon.com/Claire-Mccardell-Kohle-Yohannan/dp/0810943751/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-6081323-3268934?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1173982477&sr=8-

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Book

What Shall I Wear?  The What, Where, When and How Much of Fashion.

what shal l wear

 

Book description:

The revolutionary fashion designer credited with originating “The American Look,” Claire McCardell designed for the emerging active lifestyle of women in the 1940s and ’50s. She was the originator of mix-and-match separates, open-backed sundresses, and feminine denim fashion; she started the trend for ballet flats as a wartime leather-rationing measure. Spaghetti straps, brass hooks and eyes as fasteners, rivets, menswear details and fabrics: they were all started by McCardell. Her Monastic and Pop-over dresses achieved cult status, and her fashions were taken up by working women, the suburban set, and high society alike.

First published in 1956, What Shall I Wear? is a distillation of McCardell’s democratic fashion philosophy and a chattily vivacious guide to looking effortlessly stylish. Mostly eschewing Paris, although she studied there and was influenced by Vionnet and Madame Gres, McCardell preferred an unadorned aesthetic; modern and minimalist, elegant and relaxed, even for evening, with wool jersey and tweed among her favorite fabrics.

What Shall I Wear? provides a glimpse into the sources of McCardell’s inspiration–travel, sports, the American leisure lifestyle, and her own closet–and  how she transformed them into fashion, all the while approaching design from her chosen vantage point of usefulness. A retro treat for designers and everyone who loves fashion–vintage and contemporary–and teeming with charming illustrations and still-solid advice for finding your own best look, creatively shopping on a budget, and building a real wardrobe that is chic and individual, What Shall I Wear? is a tribute to the American spirit in fashion.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/what-shall-i-wear-claire-mccardell/1118070664?ean=9781585679706

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photograph by Frances McLaughlin-Gill. Published in Vogue, November 15, 1944..

Info:    VoguePedia, http://msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc3500/sc3520/013500/013581/html/13581bio.html & The fashion encyclopedia

a lot of pictures found: http://www.metmuseum.org

Claire McCardell originated The American Look (part 1)

10 Aug
Claire McCardell modelling own designClaire McCardell modeling her own design
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Paris reigned the fashion world, also in New York untill Claire McCardell came along. Before Seventh Avenue was mass producing copies of French creations, Claire originated The American Look and paved the way for designers as Halston, Calvin Klein and Donna Karan.

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Biography

Claire McCardellon the way to ParisClaire McCardell on the way to Paris
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Claire McCardell , born in 1905, grew up as a tomboy, probably due to being a girl only having three brothers, who nicknamed her “Kick”. She dreamed of being an illustrator and in 1925 she persuaded her father to let her transfer to the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (later Parsons). 

In 1927, Claire went to Paris, “what was then the source of all fashion” and continued her studies at the Parsons branch school at the Place des Vosges. While in Paris, Claire worked part-time tracing fashion sketches and learned, in her own words, “the way clothes worked, the way they felt, where they fastened.” Together with her classmates  she would often comb Parisian flea markets, looking for cast-off couture clothing, which they would then take home and unstitch to see exactly how the garments were created. especially the samples from the French couturier Madeleine Vionnet, whose influence was evident in Claire’s work; though she did not work in the couture tradition, she was able to create ready-to-wear clothing by simplifying Vionnet’s cut. Claire incorporated the bias cut into her designs, both for aesthetic as well as functional effects. 

After graduating Claire takes a series of jobs -painting rosebuds on lampshades and modeling for B. Altman- before she gets a job at a knitwear company. She is fired eight months later, after the owner tells her, “Stop designing for yourself and start designing for the customers.” Instead she finds a job with designer Robert Turk.

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Bathing suits/ Play suits by Claire McCardell

bathing suittwo-piece bathing suit, 1948
bathing suit 1951bathing suit 1951 
Play,bathing suit, 1943
play suit 1943, diaper silhouet
playsuit 1944play suit 1944, bloomer sihouet
1957
swimsuit 1957
025_claire-mc-cardell_theredlistplay suit early 1950’s, bloomer silhouet 
two piece play suit
two piece play suit 
Denim Playsuit by Claire Mc Cardell, photo by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, 1946denim plat suit, 1946
033_claire-mc-cardell_theredlist

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When Robert Turk shuts down his business, Claire follows him to Townley Frocks. Shortly after the move to Townley and just a month before the spring showing in 1931, Robert Turk tragically drowned while swimming, forcing Claire to finish the collection. She recalled how she dealt with the opportunistic crisis: “I did what everybody else did in those days – copied Paris.  The collection wasn’t great, but it sold.”  This success encouraged Claire to experiment.

In 1934, Claire launches her first innovation: the interchangeable separates, for which the public took some time to get used to. “It is my experience that a good, new idea must be repeated over and over to catch on,” she’ll later say. “You have to sneak up with it, at least in mass-produced clothes.” Three years later she designs her first bathing suits for Townley..

Department store Lord & Taylor becomes one of the first retailers to promote homegrown design during the Depression years of the thirties, it was almost a decade, according to The New York Times, before “people started talking about the ‘American look’ in fashion. It was fresh, spirited, young. It was made for healthy, long-legged girls who were going places and wanted clothes they could move in.”

For fall 1938, Claire shows dirndls (skirt with attached apron), which fall flat, and the Monastic  dress—which takes off after Best & Co. buys the look and markets it as the Nada frock. Time will later report, “Until then, American women had little choice of styles between a cotton house dress and an afternoon dress. The Monastic dress gave American fashion a new flexibility that it has never lost.” Despite being an unqualified and much copied hit, the Monastic will eventually—when Claire insists on repeating its silhouette in subsequent seasons—cripple Townley financially. The company closes later in the year.

Monastic dress

Monastic dress, 1949

Claire joins Hattie Carnegie designing “Workshop Originals”, but the company thought her designs were “too simple for the rich tastes of the Carnegie carriage trade”. In January 1940, four months before the German occupation,she  attends her last Paris fashion show. Soon after, she will leave Hattie Carnegie and work briefly for lower-cost manufacturer Win-Sum, before rejoining the reopened Townley—the surprise outcome of a chance meeting on an elevator with her former employer and his new partner Adolph Klein. She will stay with Townly till her death.

Claire introduces the Kitchen Dinner dress—just the thing, a reviewer says, “for the girl who wants quickly to whip up a meal for her beau or her husband and to serve it to him looking smart. Adolf Klein adds Claire McCardell’s name to Townley labels. Valerie Steele, chief curator of the Historic Costume Collection at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City noted that in Claire McCardell’s time, “You had the name of the store or manufacturer. The designer was someone kept in the back room. …But she wanted the credit. It wasn’t an ego trip. It was just acknowledgment of her work.”

Her name is becoming a brand; she is one of the very first American designers to earn this kind of personal recognition. Unable to get proper shoes for her presentations due to wartime restrictions, she uses Capezio ballet slippers, starting a craze for dance flats.

Capezio dance flats

 Caprezio dance flats 
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The War Production Board issues Regulation L85, which sets restrictions on womenswear. Claire comes up with another innovation because of the fabric shortish:  Salvage Sally line of patchworked clothes and she introduces the denim Pop-over,a wrap-around housedress which Vogue will later describe as a major invention “born of necessity.” Some 75,000 of these $6.95 dresses ((its low price was because it was classified as a ‘utility garment’ and Claire’s manufacturer, Adolf Klein, of Townley, was able to make a special deal with labor) ) are sold within the year. Some form of a wraparound dress around $25 or $30 was always in Claire’s collection thereafter, and she liked denim so much she made coats and suits of it for townwear completed with the workman’s double topstitching as a form of decoration. … Claire could take five dollars worth of common cotton calico and make a dress a smart woman could wear anywhere. The modern woman could both be chic and do the cooking. The Popover is lauded at the Coty American Fashion Critics’ Awards.

Pop-over dress

popover dress ad

Popover dress
 

At the age of 37, Claire took a break from her professional career to focus on her personal life, marrying Texas architect Irving Drought Harris, who had two children from a previous marriage. She helped raise them, but her growing career and her husband’s disapproval put a strain on the family relationship.  Claire’s brother Bob said about the marriage: “Irving never approved of her career. He would have been very happy if she gave that up.” But she had made a name for herself and she was intent on having her career.  It was her first love.

When Claire wins her first Coty Award, Norman Norell, who received the inaugural prize the year before, will say that she should have had that first: “Don’t forget, Claire invented all those marvelous things strictly within the limits of mass production. . . .

New York Times reporter Virginia Pope writes that Claire “is frequently spoken of as the most American of designer, for she seems to have a special aptitude for understanding and interpreting the life of the American woman.”

Lord & Taylor uses the phrase The American Look for the first time in 1945. In response to MoMA’s query “Are clothes modern?” Vogue publishes an Erwin Blumenfeld portrait of Claire wearing her “future dress,” which is “made entirely of two huge triangles that tie at the neck, back, and front.”

Future dress

Claire McCardell modelling her Future Dress, ph. by Erwin BlumenfeldClaire McCardell wearing her “Future Dress”, ph. by Irving Penn 
Evening dress - Clare McCardell 1945
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After World War II, Claire continued to branch out in the fashion industry, working as a volunteer critic at the Parsons School of Design, as well as joining an advisory panel for Time, designing a new magazine that would become Sports Illustrated. Her most lasting impression, however, would continue to be in design.

In September 1948, Claire McCardell receives the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award.

irving-penn-vogue-1950Irving Penn for Vogue, 1950: two girls being comfortable in Claire McCardell’s clothes, knitting, reading, smoking, and oozing chic insouciance at a small café table
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“The typical McCardell girl looked comfortable in her clothes because she was comfortable,” wrote Sally Kirkland, a fashion editor at Vogue in the forties. “She always had deep side pockets, even in evening dresses, which encouraged a sort of nonchalant Astaire-like stance.”

Of her summer line for 1951, The New York Times says, “The designs were made of distinctive fabrics as always. The clothes were functional and styled basically, following the lines of the fabrics rather than molding anything to the body. Miss McCardell believes in belting gathers in at the waist rather than cutting the fabric to fit.”

In 1952 Claire becomes a partner in Townley.

Claire McCardell designs till 1952

evening ensemble 1937evening ensemble, 1937 
1939dress, 1939
dress 1939-40dress, 1939-40
1940ties
dress, 1940’s
dress 1943
dress, 1943
sundress 1943
sundress, 1943
ensemble 1944
ensemble, 1944, with workmans dubble topstiches
1945
ensemble, 1945
suit 1945
suit, 1945
sundress 1946
sundress, 1946
ensemble 1946
ensemble, 1946 
dress 1946
dress, 1946
dress 1946-47
dress, 1946-47
1947
dress, 1947
1948
dress, 1948
dress 1950
dress, 1950
1950 evening wear
evening wear, 1950
dress 1950, 2
dress, 1950
coat 1952
coat, 1952
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Claire McCardell
Claire McCardell
 
 
NEXT WEEK: Claire McCardell (Part two)
 

Info:    VoguePedia & http://msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc3500/sc3520/013500/013581/html/13581bio.html

a lot of pictures found: http://www.metmuseum.org/

 

More work by Deborah Turbeville

3 Aug

deborah-turbeville selfportrait-wallflower-1978
Deborah Turbeville selfportait, 1978

 

Ungaro, Vogue 1984

Ungaro, Vogue, 1984

Ungaro, Vogue, 1984, by Deborah Turbeville

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Diane Vreeland

Diane Vreeland

Diane Vreeland

Diana-Vreeland- december 1980

Diane Vreeland

Casa No Name/ Mexico

casa no name

Casa no name

casa no name

Casa no name

DeborahTurbeville

casa no name

casa no name

Valentino Haute Couture, Vogue Italia

Valentino_Haute-_Couture_Deborah-Turbeville-vogue-italia

Valentino_Haute_Couture_FW12_deborah-photo

Valentino_Haute_Couture_Deborah-Turbeville

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Charlotte Gainsbourg

Charlotte Gainsbourg by Deborah Turbeville

Charlotte Gainsbourg by Deborah Turbeville

34_Turbeville_CharlotteGainsbourg

Charlotte Gainsbourg
 
Charlotte Gainsbourg by Deborah Turbeville
  
Charlotte Gainsbourg
  
Charlotte Gainsbourg by Deborah Turbeville
 
Charlotte Gainsbourg

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Portrets

Victoria Guinness, 1983Victoria Guinness, 1983
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Portrait of Carmen Freidberg, Mexico, 1997Portrait of Carmen Freidberg, Mexico, 1997
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deborah turbeville Corenlia and Bianca Brandolini D'adda- vogue italia (3)

deborah turbeville 005 Corenlia and Bianca Brandolini D'adda- vogue italiaCorenlia and Bianca Brandolini D’adda- vogue italia
Chloe SevignyChloe Sevigny
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Deborah Turbeville
 
Deborah Turbeville
  
Deborah Turbeville
 
Turbeville
 
Turbeville

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And other Amazing Pictures by Deborah Turbeville

Deborah Turbeville

Deborah Turbeville

russian-vogue

Deborah Turbeville

 

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DeborahTurbeville

Deborah Turbeville, described as the anti-Helmut Newton

27 Jul

Deborah Turbeville

Deborah Turbeville was born in Massachusetts and raised in New England. When she was twenty years old she moved to New York City to become a sample model and assistant for  designer Claire McCardell, who will later  introduce her to Diana Vreeland . Having a fond interest in designer clothing Deborah became a fashion editor, but not long after she realized that her heart was in photography. She has been taking amazing photographs ever since.

Short Biography

Deborah Turbeville

Deborah Turbeville is born in 1937. Spending her upbringing in New England and summers in Ogunquit, Maine, she always stays fascinated with environments: “very bleak, very stark, very beautiful,” she later remembers. “Since then I have always had to have mystery and atmosphere in my life. They draw me out more than anything.” Deborah dreams of becoming a dancer or actress.

She moves to New York in 1956, where Deborah becomes a sample model and assistant for Claire McCardell. The designer will later introduce her to Diana Vreeland, at this time a fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar.  Having a fond interest in designer clothing, she becomes an editorial assistant at Ladies’ Home Journal in 1960 and two years later moves to Harper’s Bazaar to work as fashion editor.  In 1965 Bazaar’s current editor in chief, Nancy White, tells her she has taken things too far. Deborah is fired. In the mean time her love for photography grows on her and when  she shows some of her amateur work to Richard Avedon, he invites her to attend some advanced seminars.

Early Fashion Photographs/ Women in The Woods, 1977

Deborah Turbeville

Deborah Turbeville

Deborah Turbeville

Deborah Turbeville

 Vogue Italia, 1977

While working at Diplomat magazine, she begins to shoot her own pictures. In 1967 Deborah becomes an associate fashion editor at Mademoiselle. “I was able to ask them if ever I could do a sitting of my own and take the pictures. That’s how I built my portfolio at Mademoiselle, shooting my own sittings.”.

She continues for a time to do both styling and photography. “That helped me, because I didn’t have to earn a living being a photographer at first,” she later recalls. “I never could have done that because I was too special. My pictures were in soft focus. It was a completely new thing. Had I been out on my own, I might have had to compromise my work.”

It isn’t long before she begins working alongside the photographers she used to collaborated with as an editor. She becomes a sought-after photographer in her own right. The New York Times single her out as the only American in a threesome —also including Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton—that  bring “eeriness, shock, and alienation” to the formerly pleasant and pretty business of selling clothes. .

Wallflower

Wallflower book cover & backThe beautiful book has soft focus photographs of women in a bathhouse by Deborah Turbeville,  published in 1978.

Wallflower 3

Wallflower

Wallflower

Wallflower 2

Wallflower http://www.amazon.com/Wallflower-Deborah-Turbeville/dp/093018601X/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1405938098&sr=8-6&keywords=deborah+turbeville .

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Past Imperfect

book cover

deborah-turbeville-e28093-fromecole-des-beaux-arts-1974-1980-from-past-imperfect_e

Deborah Turbeville

deborah-turbeville-e28093-from-serie-ecole-des-beaux-arts-1974-1980-from-e2809cpast-imperfect_e

deborah-turbeville-e28093-from-serie-ecole-des-beaux-arts-1974-1980-from-e2809cpast-imperfect-_e

Past Imperfect

 

 In 1975, Vogue publishes what is probably Deborahs most infamous images, the Bathhouse series: skinny and world-weary-looking women wearing maillots and robes in a bathhouse that broke nearly every rule about how models in swimsuits were supposed to look. “I didn’t expect them to cause trouble,” she later says. (I already published these pictures in my last post: Polly Mellen styled the controversial Bathhouse Series & Nastassja Kinski )

Despite of this scandal, Vogue goes on working with her again and again, and she becomes closely identified with the magazine. Deborah always said that her intention was to leave it to viewers to make their own interpretations of the storyline and its meaning. “I’m not pinpointing anything,” she says in 2006. “In my pictures, you never know, that’s the mystery. It’s just a suggestion and you leave it to the audience to put what they want on it. It’s fashion in disguise.”
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Unseen Versailles

Unseen Versailles

Unseen Versailles 2

Unseen Versailles 7

 

Unseen Versailles

Unseen Versailles 4

Unseen Versailles 6

She begins work on Unseen Versailles, a book dreamed up by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, an editor at Doubleday, in 1979. “I wanted her to conjure up what went on there,” Jacqueline later tells People magazine, “to evoke the feeling that there were ghosts and memories.”  Despite having encountered a beautiful restored palace when she arrived to scout it, Deborah delivers—after two years of research and work—just the haunting imagery that Jacqueline had envisioned. “I destroy the image after I’ve made it, obliterate it a little so you never have it completely there,” Deborah says. Alexander Liberman, editorial director of Condé Nast publications, calls Unseen Versailles “a pioneering breakthrough in photography.” It wins the American Book Award.

She remains consistently popular with fashion editors, working continuously with Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and W Magazine, shooting for Ungaro, Karl Lagerfield and Valentino, in the meantime receiving personal requests from personalities such as Jackie Kennedy. Taking photographs for more than 30 years, her aesthetic has never changed. Deborah divides her time between New York and Mexico and always spent a great deal of time in St. Petersburg, Russia, the city that inspires her most.

Deborah has been described as the anti-Helmut Newton. Where Newton’s pictures are vital with physicality and sexual power, Deborah’s are studies in immobility, surreal works shot as though misted glass. When discussing her favourite city St. Petersburg, she describes a place “where history has come to a halt, like a streetcar immobilized in ice“; words that can also be seen to resonate through her photography.
Deborah Tubeville lost the battle with lung cancer on October 24th, 2013. She was one of kind and will be remembered as the woman who changed the face of fashion photography.
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The Fashion Pictures

book cover

Book description:

From internationally acclaimed photographer Deborah Turbeville comes the first book on her highly influential visionary avant-garde fashion photography. Celebrated for her poetic grace and cinematic vision, Deborah Turbeville has produced fashion tableaux that draw the viewer into her otherworldly environments. A romantic and modernist, Turbeville bridges the boundaries between commercial fashion and fine arts photography. In this remarkable presentation, Turbeville reveals her highly individualistic point of view of fashion photography and the stories behind her photographs. 

This first retrospective presentation of Turbeville’s fashion photography was selected by the artist herself. In addition, she has designed the evocative layouts to create yet another masterwork. The presentation includes Turbeville’s most famous photographs, among them the controversial Bathhouse series of 1975 for American Vogue with disturbingly isolated figures and her Woman in the Woods series of 1977 for Italian Vogue showing psychologically charged emotions, along with her numerous photography campaigns for labels like Sonia Rykiel, Valentino, Yamamonto, Ungaro, and Commes des Garçons, as well as commissions for Chanel and work that has never been seen before. Her most current project for Casa Vogue–Italian nobility dressed in special couture outfits–evokes Turbeville’s vision of everlasting beauty.

http://www.amazon.com/Deborah-Turbeville-The-Fashion-Pictures/dp/0847834794

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Info for this story: Another Magazine & Voguepedia.

Next week:  More Work by Deborah Turbeville

Polly Mellen styled the controversial Bathhouse Series & Nastassja Kinski

20 Jul

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Avedon2002Polly Mellen by Richard Avedon, 2002

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In a career that spanned more than half a century, Polly Mellen , today 90 years old, helped create some of the most indelible imagery in the history of fashion. Her work as a stylist and editor, first under the legendary Diana Vreeland at Harper’s Bazaar, and later under both Vreeland and Grace Mirabella at Vogue, helped define a new, more modern ethos about clothes and how women wore them.

linda-evangelista-naomi-campbell-polly-mellon-and-christy-turlington1989

 Polly Mellen with the 90s supermodels, Linda, Naomi & Christy

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Short Biography

polly mellen

Polly Allen Mellen was born in Connecticut, in 1924. She attended Miss Porter’s School for girls,in the early ‘40s, and later work as a nurse’s aid at an Army hospital in Virginia during WWII. 

In 1949 she moved to New York and became salesgirl at Lord & Taylor and a fashion editor at Mademoiselle. Soon after she was introduced to Diana Vreeland, then a fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar and joins her at the magazine, where she will meet her future longtime creative collaborator, Richard Avedon. At first he is not keen on working with Polly, he finds her “to noisy”. She also worked with Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Arthur Elgort, and, more recently, Mario Testino, Steven Meisel, and Steven Klein.

Later Avedon stated: “From Vreeland’s rib came Polly Mellen,”  of the longtime Vogue fashion stylist, “from that day on, Eden never looked better” and “She was the most creative sittings editor I ever worked with.”

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Bathhouse by Deborah Turbeville

The Bathhouse (styled by Polly) was one of Vogue’s most controversial shoots that scandalised Vogue reader to pull out of their subscribsion, relating the images to Dachau and drug addicts (Heroin Chiq avant la lettre). It took five days with each spread taking a day to shoot. The amazing location was the Asser Levy Bath House, New York
 

Bathhouse by Deborah Turbeville

Bathhouse

Bathhouse by Deborah Turbeville

Bathhouse by Deborah Turbeville

Bathhouse by Deborah Turbeville

Bathhouse by Deborah Turbeville

 

Bathhouse try out

 

pre study picture 2

 

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Polly marries her first husband Louis Bell in 1952, moves to Philadelphia and has two children. After she and Louis divorced (1962), she meets Henry Wigglesworth Mellen, who becomes het second husband in 1965.

A year later she returns to New York to work for Diana Vreeland as a fashion editor at Vogue, and rekindles creative partnership with Avedon. There first collaboration for Vogue is a five week trip to Japan where they produce ‘The Great Fur Caravan’ ( read & see the post of last week!). When in 1971, Diane Vreeland leaves Vogue, Polly carries on under editor in chief Grace Mirabella and in 1979, she becomes fashion director of Vogue,  . .

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Nastassja Kinski 

During an Avedon shoot with Nastassja Kinski, Polly learned that the actress  liked animals, in particular snakes, because they are “exciting when they move”. She rushed to Avedon and insisted that the team “must send out for a snake!”
 
The result is a famous photograph of a nude, outstretched Kinski wearing only an ivory Patricia von Musulin  bracelet and a live python. This statement illustrated quite literally that fashion was about more than just beautiful clothes.

 Nastassja Kinski  .   .

.In 1991 Polly joins the staff of new Condé Nast beauty magazine Allure as creative director. Two years later she receives a lifetime achievement award at age 68 from the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc.) and makes a memorable, nostalgic cameo appearance in Douglas Keeve’s fashion-industry documentary, “Unzipped.” More than ever, fans appreciated her on-air grandiosity and declarations of fashion truisms.

After a brief freelance period of two years, Polly retires from styling in 2001, 

 

GAP advertisement

At 78, Polly appears in an advertising campaign for the Gap wearing a men’s vintage T-shirt layered over a long-sleeved tee and Long & Lean jeans.
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In addition to producing unforgettable fashion stories, Polly was also inspiring young fashion talent, mentoring at-the-time-newcomers including Vera wang, Nicolas Ghesquière (whom she spotted already when he was an intern for Jean Paul Gaultier), Isaac Mizrahi, and Phoebe Philo, as well as future hair and makeup stars François Nars and Garren. Considered eccentric by some people, she was committed to never being “over it” when it came to fashion. She became known at runway shows as the editor who, when excited  by a collection, would raise her hands high above her head and clap long and loud.

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Various work by Polly Mellen

polly mellen

polly mellen

polly mellen

polly mellen

polly mellen

US Vogue 1983 Polly Mellen  Helmut Newton & Hans Feurer

polly mellen

polly mellen

polly mellen

polly mellen

polly mellen

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Unzipped (1995)

DVD cover

Isaac Mizrahi, one of the most successful designers in high fashion, plans his fall 1994 collection. He combines inspirations such as the Hollywood Eskimo look, the Mary Tyler Moore show, and Ouija-derived advise like “dominatrix mixed with Hitchcock” into a well-received collection. A behind-the-scenes look at the creative side of fashion.

 

The best thing about UNZIPPED is it introduced me to Polly Mellen who is hilarious and brilliant.

Isaac Mizrahi.

 

 

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Polly Mellen

 

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