Ormond Gigli’s New York City (Girls in the Windows) is one of the most memorable fashion photographs of the 20th century. Realising that the 19th-century brownstones across the street from his own East 58th Street town house were slated for destruction, Gigli conceived of this image without an editorial assignment in part to memorialise the ever-changing and modernising Manhattan cityscape. Calling upon models, friends and even his own wife, Gigli took the photograph from his fire escape during the demolition crew’s lunch hour. The shoot became an immortalised “happening” of its day.




spacer_260ORMOND GIGLI
New York City (Girls in the Windows),
96.5 by 96.5 cm.;
38 by 38 in.

The New York Sale
New York
Exhibition: 26-31 March
Auction: 1 April
Enquiries: +1 212 606 7916

gigli_anatomy_178-55. DESTRUCTION
These town houses, on East
58th Street between First and
Second Avenues, were rased
the day following the shoot,
making way for a new modern
mid-rise building.
gigli_anatomy_178-44. ARCHITECTURE
Through his bullhorn, Gigli
directed the women to pose
safely within the 19th-century
cement windows which were
crumbling. A number of the
women were more daring and
ventured out onto the sills.
gigli_anatomy_178-33. FASHION
The 43 women punctuating the
grid of vacant windows wear
the vibrant jewel-toned
dresses, formal evening wear
and accessories popular
throughout the early 1960s.
gigli_anatomy_178-22. SURPRISES
The morning of the shoot,
Gigli discovered that Con
Edison had dug a hole where a
Rolls Royce was to be parked.
Workers filled the hole with
wet cement, watched the
shoot and subsequently
re-excavated the hole.
gigli_anatomy_178-11. MODELS
Gigli’s own wife, Sue Ellen, is
pictured on the second floor
at the far right. The
demolition supervisor agreed
to the photo shoot on the
condition that his wife also be
included (third floor, third
from the left).