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Welcome! Thank you for visiting my weblog. I am Irene, Elisabeth Pouw, a Dutch fashion- and interiorblogger. As blogger I am connecting my readers with beauty, style, quality, craftsmanship and harmony in colors for interior / design / architecture, haute couture, photography, art, antiques etc. I love decorating & bringing beauty and harmony into interiors. I created this blog to share my passion for decorating as well as the many other things which inspire me. From time to time I am also highlighting certain interior designers, decorators, architects, stylists, photographers etc. I hope you enjoy your visit. Feel free to give a comment on my blogs. I will react back as soon as possible. Best regards, Irene Pouw from Holland.

22 september 2014

Dovima with Elephants by Richard Avedon, 1955

Dovima was a Supermodel during the 1950s, she was reputed to be the highest-paid model of her time. ”Dovima with Elephants” was one in a series of pictures Avedon began making in Cirque d’hiver, Paris, in August 1955, has become an icon. The gown was the first evening dress designed for Christian Dior by his new assistant, Yves Saint-Laurent.
When it took place, New York-born Avedon was 32 and had been a professional  photographer for ten years. He had been recruited to work as a staff photographer for Harper’s Bazaar in1945 soon after completing his military service, by the influential art director Alexey Brodovitch. Avedon, with his enthusiasm, inventiveness and instinctive visual flair, soon established himself  as a significant new voice in fashion photography.

The model chosen for the Cirque d’hiver shoot was known as Dovima. Her real name was Dorothy Virginia Margaret Juba, but she created her professional name from the first two letters in her three given names. Tall and slender, Dovima epitomised 1950s style and was said to be one of  the highest-paid models of the period. She and Avedon often worked  together and Dovima later commented that the two of them ‘became like mental Siamese twins, with me knowing what he wanted before he explained it. He asked me to do extraordinary things, but I always knew I was going to be part of a  great picture.’ For this particular Harper’s Bazaar shoot, Dovima was asked to pose close to four circus elephantsThe shoot took place on a hot summer’s day. Avedon later recalled that when he entered the area where the elephants were kept, he saw that the animals were beautifully lit by natural light. ‘I saw the elephants  under an enormous skylight and in a second I knew … there was the potential here  for a kind of dream image.’ 
Dovima with elephants, Evening dress by Dior, Cirque d'Hiver, Paris, August 1955
In the most famous image from the shoot, Dovima is shown in an ankle-length black evening gown with a white sash. It was  the first dress designed for Dior by his 19-year-old assistant, Yves Saint-Laurent. Although the elephants each had one foot chained to the floor, they were still potentially dangerous and Dovima had to hold her nerve as they  moved restlessly behind her. She is shown striking a graceful, narcissistic pose, her eyes almost closed, with one hand resting on an elephant’s trunk. The picture has become iconic for a number of reasons. First, it’s almost surreal juxtaposition of the model and elephants is visually arresting and unexpected, combining fantasy and reality. Second, it is beautifully lit and elegantly posed. Finally, the picture represents a contrast of opposites: youth and age, strength and frailty, grace and awkwardness, freedom and captivity. The picture’s rich combination of qualities elevates it beyond the standard fashion  image and into the realm of high art.
Richard Avedon, selfportrait
Avedon went on to become one of America’s most celebrated and influential photographers, particularly for his fashion and portraiture and was still creating new work up to his death at the age of 81 in 2004. About Dovima: ‘She was  the last of the great elegant, aristocratic beauties,’ said Avedon, ‘the most remarkable and unconventional beauty of her time.

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