Thursday, January 14, 2016

Schulenberg's Page: Paris, Part XXXXII

Les Deux Magots in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, July 16, 1963.
Schulenberg's Page: Paris, Part XXXXII
Text and illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg


Summer, 1963: the Fall/Winter Couture Collections were continuing. And Richard Avedon was in town photographing them for Harper's Bazaar.
Not wanting to be forgotten by the magazine's art director after previously showing her in New York what could be called "Satiric Fashion" — samples about which Editor-in-Chief Diana Vreeland's only comment was "tres dégagé!" — and having been invited to visit, I stopped by the hotel where they were staying. 
Diana Vreeland by Priscilla Rattazzi, circa 1982.
They were also working at the hotel where Art Director Bea Feitler and Fashion Editor China Machado, the first Asian mixed race model before becoming an editor, were working with Avedon himself as he was shooting in a small ballroom turned-photo studio.
China Machado by Avedon.
Self portrait of Richard Avedon, circa 1963.
The principal model was the fabulous Dorothea McGowan.
She was one of the most familiar faces on the covers of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar — and one of the most beautiful of all those beautiful faces.
Bea was working at a table taking notes or planning layouts (maybe just doodling), but doing something that seemed essential and it was taking a lot of concentration, so I just stood by and watched!

It was actually my own photography that cinched the deal of my originally being invited to work as an Art Director in New York!
My friend, Sharon Lamoreaux, photographed by me.
And Richard Avedon was my inspiration — someone whose work I idolized! He was the real life inspiration and incarnation of the fashion photographer "Richard Avery" (get it?) played by Fred Astaire in the movie, "Funny Face." He was also the visual consultant for that film.
Audrey Hepburn with model and Avedon favorite, DOVIMA, in "Funny Face."
I was surprised at how simple Avedon's lighting setup was; it looked like he was just using a 100-watt bulb in front of a model and a brighter 150 watt bulb behind aimed at a large wide white seamless paper backdrop just taped to the wall, both of the lights surrounded by a common aluminum bowl reflector.

There was a rhythmic recording pounding out a beat and Dorothea was "dancing" a very slow motion half time Twist. It was giving her (and Avedon) all the familiar contrapposto (counterpose) movements I'd seen in so many of his photos!
And as she "danced" and Avedon photographed, an assistant held the shielded 100-watt bulb on a long extended arm directly over Avedon's head giving Dorothea a consistently perfect portrait light!

This is one of those photos and was used as the cover for that issue of Bazaar.
Dorothea McGowan shot by Richard Avedon | Harper's Bazaar, 1963.
Dorothea was leaving for New York the next day and before she left, we met for lunch at the Cafe Flore.

China and the actor Timmy Everett were there on the terrace but Dorothea was feeling self conscious while trying to adapt to her high style haircut created by the very famous Alexandre. It turned out looking a bit strange so we stayed inside.
Inset: Timmy Everett had just completed a featured role in the movie, "The Music Man."
With her new haircut, Dorothea looked like a very pretty young American, possibly studying at the Sorbonne, and not at all like the very familiar sophisticated face that watched from hundreds of magazine covers!
In fact, another great photographer William Klein made a movie, "WHO ARE YOU, POLLY MAGGOO?" satirizing the fashion world. Dorothea played the fictitious super model "Polly MAGGOO" of the title.  The term had yet to be invented but it was clear that's what she was, a Super Model!
A few days later I was at the Flore with husband and wife Harper's Bazaar photographers, Paul Himmel and Lillian Bassman.
Lillian Bassman, Across the Restaurant, 1949.
We were discussing photography and the future of fashion photography which was changing from the glamorous formal romanticism that they favored. They'd been friends with Avedon since their career beginnings; Lillian had first been an art director at Junior Bazaar before taking up photography.  A few years later, they would change direction and Paul ultimately would become a psychotherapist while Lillian would focus on Fine Art photography.
Lillian and Paul were married for over 73 years!
As I was about to leave them, I felt someone give me a light swat on the head with a newspaper. I looked up. It was Avedon!

He winked and said to them, "Hey! Don't let this guy (me) draw your picture! He won't be kind!"
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