MODELS FROM ’30s THROUGH 50’s and THE BIRTH OF A LEGEND
The thirties were marked by a discrete elegance and sobriety, after the great depression in 1929. Seeing the great line between the flappers, who carried a much looser, almost formless and much more manly image to the jump of the new look of Dior. Women were transforming themselves and needed a figure that represented the fusion between almost bohemian and rebellious attitudes in search of voice and vote, with new professions as writers, designers, and models.
Having a job as a model was an act of rebellion, many discredited the women who exercised it but could not deny its elegance and exquisite lifestyle.
The names of these young women remained in the minds of those who passionately supported fashion: Dovima, Dorian Leigh, Sunny Harnett, Jean Shrimpton, Suzy Parker.
Dorian Leigh’s case is one of “It’s never too late for …” she began her career after being married and having children at the age of twenty-seven under the Harry Conover agency. When she introduced herself to Diana Vreeland, she lied about her age, telling her she was nineteen.
She changed agency to Ford Modeling in 1947, but under one condition, that the agency would accept her sister, Susie (Suzy Parker) who was very different from her.
Dorian being 5’5 with dark hair and bright blue eyes, Suzy with an intense red hair and green eyes like emerald, although much younger than Dorian, she was 5’10 and only fifteen.
Both became very recognized thanks to the numerous covers in magazines and the publicity for brands like Revlon. They worked together on many occasions.
Suzy became the face of Chanel and intimate friend of the designer, Gabrielle Chanel. Dorian retired and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu and opened her own restaurant. Some time later, Suzy continued her life withdrawing from the cameras, taking care of her husband and kids.
Then it was Dovima, whom the same Dorian Leigh admired thanks to the works of the model with photographer, Richard Avedon. Dorian said ‘’He used Dovima like a painter uses a medium. She was his medium.’’
Of these proclaimed works it emphasizes the photography of 1955, “Dovima and the elephants” in which the first dress of Yves Saint Laurent for Dior is pictured.
Categorized as of a surreal beauty and mysterious glamour, Jerry and Eileen Ford said of her, “The super-sophisticated model in a sophisticated time.”
She also appeared in the movie “Funny Face” (1957) in the role of a model called “Marion”, reaffirming her status as an icon at that time.
But in consensus they all named one as the billion-dollar baby of the modeling world, and it was the swedish, Lisa Fonssagrives Penn. A young woman who had trained her body all her life to be a dancer, which allowed her to have a distinctive way of posing in front of the camera, she called it “still dancing”, posing with her body as if you were dancing but frozen in time.
She had the whole package for the attitude and clothing with which these new women would be uniformed, with pronounced waist and hips. Being very modest, she said she just was ” a good clothes hanger.’’
There was no magazine or photographer that did not have her in mind for their projects, making her the most expensive among all the faces. She charged forty dollars a session while the other girls were paid from ten to twenty-five dollars. She worked really hard and once fainted in a studio that had no ventilation, she was being photographed in a fur coat in the heat of summer.
She appeared on more than two hundred covers of Vogue magazine, she worked in her 40s (ten years more than her colleagues used to) and in 1949 she was the cover of TIME magazine for being considered the highest-paid, highest-praised and highest-fashion model in the business, cataloging her as well as the first super model and it girl at the time.
The mark she left after her reign for nearly three decades has been that of a relentless ethic and a great innate bearing of femininity throughout her life.
WRITER // VIVIANA P.
IMAGES // GOOGLE ARCHIVE
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