Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Model as Muse // Less is More

Photograph by Irving Penn (American, born 1917).  Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn in Cristóbal Balenciaga Mantle Coat, Paris, 1950; as featured in Vogue, September 1, 1950.  There is something about this photograph that I absolutely adore.  The drape and weight of the fabric looks irresistible... a piece I would love to own on a brisk autumn day in Chicago.  The manner in which Ms. Fonssagrives-Penn poses, with her body turned slightly away from the camera, and her neck and head craned elegantly toward the center, not only compliments the design interest of the garment, but adds an air of sophistication and poise that contrasts the unstructured simplicity of the design.  Rather infrequent I find nowadays a photograph where the model's presence is a complimenting accessory to a garment, which serves as the focal point.  Kin to Balenciaga's preference for simplicity in design technique, Penn's photograph here shows that, without a doubt, less is more.

Another photograph from possibly the same issue of Vogue in 1950 (I know this much for sure), also Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn photographed by Irving Penn, this time in Christian Dior.  I am inappropriately obsessed with the magnitude of this collar. The position of her feet in a transitioning pose and her smile peaking from behind the collar capture perfectly her charisma.

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