The collection of the photographer
Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
Acquired by Margaret W. Weston from the above, 2001
Monterey Museum of Art, Passion and Precision: Photographs from the Collection of Margaret W. Weston, January - April 2003
Monterey Museum of Art, Monterey Collects: Masterworks from Monterey County Collections, June - September 2006
Harper's Bazaar, March 1959, p. 113 (this print)
This photograph of Suzy Parker in a Jean Desses dress was taken by Richard Avedon on location in Paris and was published in the March 1959 issue of Harper's Bazaar. This is the actual print used for reproduction in the magazine, and enlargement notations, in French, are present on the mount. It is likely that this print was made with the assistance of André Gremela, the master printer who had worked with a number of prominent fashion photographers, including not only Richard Avedon, but also Baron de Meyer, Edward Steichen, and Louise Dahl-Wolfe.
Jean Desses, the creator of the dress, was famous for his chiffon evening gowns, popular among royalty and movie stars. Suzy Parker, considered 'the' model of the 1950s, had been discovered at age 14 by modeling agent Eileen Ford. For a time the signature face of Coco Chanel, Parker worked extensively with Avedon over her long career, and their mutual respect for each other is evident in their work. In one of Parker's obituaries, Avedon recalled her as his 'most challenging and complicated of muses,' and noted that she had given 'emotion and reality to the history of fashion photography. She invented the form, and no one has surpassed her' (The New York Times, 6 May 2003). Of Avedon, Parker once told the New Yorker, 'he's the most wonderful man in the business because he realizes that models are not just coat-hangers' (8 November 1958).
In Stanley Donen's 1957 movie Funny Face, the character of the photographer, played by Fred Astaire, was loosely based on Avedon. Audrey Hepburn’s leading role in the film was based on Suzy Parker. Parker herself had enjoyed an acting career. From a small part in Funny Face, she went on to appear in such films as Kiss Them for Me with Cary Grant and Ten North Frederick with Gary Cooper. She also briefly entertained the notion of a career as a photographer and studied in Paris with Cartier-Bresson.
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