The large image: prêt-à-porter on the gritty streets of Paris | From the Observer


In 1950s Paris, photographer Marilyn Stafford was commissioned to seize the glamour and class of a brand new vogue idea – prêt-à-porter.

She took fashions out of the studios and into the gritty working-class areas of the French capital, the place they attracted the eye of curious youngsters enjoying within the streets.

The end result was a set of black-and-white pictures showcasing the likes of Chanel and Givenchy that mirror each the fashion and the darker, dirtier aspect of the Metropolis of Gentle.

On this shot, a pouting little one in a well-worn costume and scuffed boots sits perched on railings on the Montmartre steps, in stark distinction to the designer-clad mannequin who’s gesturing theatrically.

“I liked the streets. I wasn’t so within the garments – I used to be on the lookout for fascinating locations, backgrounds, passageways and alleys,” Stafford says.

“And in these days in the event you have been a girl out in Paris with a digicam, you had youngsters following you.”

Stafford, who was born in Ohio in 1925, initially labored as a singer after arriving in postwar Paris, acting at a membership close to the Champs Élysées, the place she met Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour and Bing Crosby, in addition to the French photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa.

After her voice failed, she took the Rolleiflex digicam she used for “informal snaps” and sought recommendation from Cartier-Bresson – who let Stafford watch him whereas he labored – and Capa, who advised that she be a part of him in documenting the conflict in Indochina (the place he was later killed).

Shunning the battlefields, Stafford, who turns 93 tomorrow, went on to report from all over the world, together with for the Observer.

Right now, Stafford admits there was one more reason for utilizing the road as a vogue backdrop: “I had no studio. It was the streets or nothing.”

Marilyn Stafford – Trend Retrospective 1950s-1980s is on the Lucy Bell Gallery, St Leonards-on-Sea, till 17 November

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