From the archives of Harper’s Bazaar, I was very touched by a 1948 picture that had been taken by Louise Dahl-Wolfe. As we are all now vulnerable, the way in which this [uncredited] model held a handkerchief in front of a porch beam gave me some sense of empathy and reassurance. In my own illustration and more than anything else, I tried to bring out what I sensed – rather than what is seen in the original.
Geranium Porch 2020
8″ x 11.5″, Mix Media
Photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe [b. 1895, d. 1989] is credited with influencing a number of the most coveted fashion photographers of the Mid-century era. Dahl-Wolfe did so by using naturalized settings and the advancement in producing full color images during the Forties and Fifties for fashion shoots in her role as a staff photographer for Harper’s Bazaar.
Despite having her work exhibited in galleries and museums, Louise Dahl-Wolfe – according to a quote I found online at Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago – was not of the opinion that photography could be considered Fine Art.
Louise Dahl-Wolfe Photo
The Thistle pattern, artfully applied to a Louis Vuitton jacket and as worn by Kaia Gerber, brought the word “pluck” to my mind. Found in Vogue’s March issue [“The New Edwardian”] and photographed by David Sims, I just love that diagonal action in Gerber’s hair above the uniformly vertical pattern. Does anyone say “plucky” these days? Well, this is pluck all over!
Louis Vuitton Spring 2020
Prophetic or just strange…? Yet, when I learned that designer Jean Paul Gaultier had announced his retirement, I had already begun this sketch of a Niall McInerney photo found within the pages of Colin McDowell’s Gaultier biography.
From his fairly humble beginnings, Gaultier began his breath taking career when he was employed by Pierre Cardin. Jean Paul was a mere 18 year old at the time! [Does anyone speak much of Cardin today? Would it be hubris to view Gaultier as having surpassed his mentor if we are to think of the legends of haute couture?]
Gaultier has often come across as an impish mischief maker; this being one of the many reasons I personally adore him but also gives one the sense that he will not disappear entirely. And since his own style – more often than not – is typically a striped sailor’s shirt, I felt the need to lend stripes to the model’s gloved hand.
Les Journées ou Gaultier
While on a vintage fashion photo spree, a 1967 photo by Patrick Hunt seized and transported me both backwards and forward. A model by the name of Maudie James, dressed in 60’s Mod icon Mary Quant and seated in floral patterned “Barrel” chair. This über-cool chick I once dreamt of becoming…and to be dressed in Mary Quant!
Yet, I couldn’t be stopped in re-imaging this in my own [quite twisted] way.
The chair became a setting of its own for some trippy botanical, as photographed by my friend Bryel. And Hieronymus Bosch inspired some sort of pattern for Maudie’s outfit – as well as an added pot with its fern. More madness came over me as I left my “medium comfort zone” and went to town with pastels of all kinds applied to a – roughly – 12” x 12” hunk of grey mat board.
Maudie James in Mary Quant. Photo by Patrick Hunt, 1967
Maudie James in Bosch
*A special mention of gratitude to Clive Arrowsmith: As I couldn’t find anything as far as Maudie’s background, Mr Arrowsmith had written of his experience with her in that she was very quiet… shy…