AGAINST OPULENCE AND PRETENTIOUSNESS: JOHN RAWLINGS

Posted on October 9, 2012 by Isabella Cecconi

What a nice story: there’s a boy, born in Ohio in 1912 who has moved to NYC in the 30s to start, after graduation a freelance career as store window dresser. After buying a Leica to photograph his work for potential clients, he has discovered the love for pictures and has started shooting his aristocratic clients. Then, years later you see the same boy in a circle of friends. These friends meet in a Magazine headquarter, for instance let’s say…VOGUE.

I’m talking about the fab five: John Rawlings, Irving Penn, Horst P. Horst, George Hoyningen-Huene, George Platt Lynes. This very time, I’ll brush up John Rawlings, who, with over 200 Vogue and Glamour covers and more than 30,000 photos of personal archive immortalized maybe the best era of American fashion and style. With his three-decade affiliation with Conde Nast, Rawlings has expanded the power of fashion press, giving a never-seen-before attention to society stars of the 1940s and 1950s. His subjects included Marlene Dietrich, Salvador Dali, Veronica Lake, Lena Horne, Montgomery Clift and many, many more. But, when opulence and pretentiousness were prevalent in fashion photography, I’m referring to Brit Cecil Beaton, or German Horst, or the Russian Hoyningen-Huene, Vogue decided to change direction and place more information and less art in its pictures. The change of direction happened to be with a very young and talented Rawlings who later became one of the most prolific and important photographers of the twentieth century. Crave with me these marvellous shots, which are still extremely  contemporary and stunning. You can’t avoid loving Rawlings at first sight and appreciate his simply beautiful photography.

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