In 1955, the young Richard Avedon was sent to Paris by Carmel Snow, the Editor-in-Chief of Harper's Bazaar, to photograph the fall couture collections. A series of 15 photographs by the young photographer were selected to illustrate 'Carmel Snow's Paris Report,' published in the magazine's September 1955 issue (pp. 204-17). The most famous photograph from this series is Dovima with Elephants, which received a full page illustration.
Visible in the postures and the images of Harper's Bazaar at the time, the elegance is in the lithe figure and the drawn silhouettes combined with movement in a very casual and playful everyday atmosphere. This contributes in giving the image of a relaxed and confident Parisienne in the streets of postwar Paris.
In order to embody the Parisian lady, Avedon chose the model nicknamed Dovima (Dorothy Virginia Margaret Juba), who represented perfectly the refinement and the preciseness he was looking for. He later would say that she was "the most remarkable and unconventional beauty of her time". She was also at the time one of the highest paid models of her period and posed for many notable photographers, including Irving Penn, Horst P. Horst, and Erwin Blumenfeld.
In the year 1955, Carol Reed was in the middle of the film shooting of "Trapeze" featuring Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis and Gina Lollobrigida at the Cirque d'Hiver. It is this location that Avedon chose to pose Dovima accompanied by the elephants. As ever, the photographer knew exactly what he wanted "I saw the elephants under an enormous skylight and in a second I knew that I then had to find the right dress, and I knew that there was the potential here for a kind of dream image."
This photograph is also important in the history of fashion since the evening dress worn by Dovima is one of the very first realizations of the young nineteen-year-old Yves Saint Laurent who was the new assistant of Christian Dior.
© The Richard Avedon Foundation
© Photograph by Adrian Panaro © 1977
© Sam Shaw Inc., licensed by Shaw Family Archives, Ltd
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