Published in 1978 to coincide with Avedon’s acclaimed retrospective at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 13 September - 5 November 1978, Avedon/Paris contains the most glamorous images of his early fashion photography. One of the museum’s first exhibitions dedicated to a living photographer, this career defining retrospective featured over 2,000 photographs hung in several galleries, with the first two dedicated to Avedon’s early fashion photography and included all of the works in this portfolio.
The photographs here are a testament to how post-war fashion photography provided a much needed escapism of glamour, adventure, luxury and pleasure. Quintessentially French in their aesthetic, these fashion photographs show the most famous models of the 1940s and 1950s at leisure in Paris: jumping over puddles, playing roulette, backstage at the Folies Bergère, dressed in the most coveted couture clothing by the celebrated French fashion houses of the day including Dior, Grès and Lanvin-Castillo. All of the models featured were the most recognised and sought after models working in fashion, muses to Avedon throughout his career.
Although Avedon is first and foremost known as a fashion photographer for his work in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar magazines, he was also extremely prolific and influential in both his directing and contribution to television advertising campaigns right from the start of his career. It was through this field that the present owner of the portfolio met Avedon and acquired it directly from him when he was hired to create a television commercial for Purex ‘Toss ‘n Soft’ fabric softener sheets. Through both his high fashion magazine shoots and advertisements for the biggest consumer companies of the era including Revlon, Colgate and Wonderbra, Avedon was afforded a very lucrative career as a photographer who helped define America’s idea of beauty and style.
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