Sunday, July 3, 2011

DOVIMA: MID-CENTURY SUPERMODEL








DOVIMA WITH ELEPHANTS
Cirque d'Hiver, Paris 1955
RICHARD AVEDON


DOVIMA WITH ELEPHANTS
Cirque d'Hiver, Paris 1955
RICHARD AVEDON








Richard Avedon’s collaboration with Dovima on the pages of the foremost fashion magazines of the time created a union that provided some of the most spectacular and iconic fashion photographs in history. His photograph “Dovima with Elephants,” featured the first evening dress designed by Yves Saint Laurent, then a young assistant to Christian Dior. It remains one of the most anthologized of fashion photographs.

Avedon took the photograph at the Cirque d’Hiver, Paris in August 1955 and the image was first published, along with a second, similar image, in the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar.

The grace of the slight and elegant figure of Dovima juxtaposed with the commanding power of the elephants was a daringly unique backdrop for the smooth and sophisticated lines of the designs being showcased. The second, less referenced image of Dovima in white with the elephants astride her, was only printed once, in the September issue. The negative no longer exists. Avedon has said of the original negative, “it disappeared mysteriously.” 

He also spoke of the more heralded photograph as being less than perfect. “The sash isn’t right,” he said years later. “It should have echoed the outside leg of the elephant to Dovima’s right.”









Throughout the decades of fashion photographs created after this seminal work, there is probably no fashion photographer of note that has not been influenced by the freedom afforded him or her to explore any incongruous setting after having absorbed this photograph.



DOVIMA
The Big Beautiful Hats of Paris
RICHARD AVEDON


DOVIMA
The Hats of Paris by Day
RICHARD AVEDON


DOVIMA
Paris by Night
Desses
RICHARD AVEDON


DOVIMA
Paris by Night
Patou
RICHARD AVEDON


DOVIMA
Givenchy's Swansdown Greatcoat
RICHARD AVEDON


DOVIMA
Dior's Polo-Coat for Evening
RICHARD AVEDON


DOVIMA
Paris: Evening Ivory
Lanvin-Castillo
RICHARD AVEDON


DOVIMA
London: Chalky Lace
Cavanaugh
RICHARD AVEDON


DOVIMA
Gres' Close-Molded Crepe
RICHARD AVEDON


DOVIMA
Griffe's Spiraled Chiffon
RICHARD AVEDON


DOVIMA
Dior's Back-Buttoned Coolie Jacket
RICHARD AVEDON


DOVIMA
Dior's Back-Trailing Hemline
RICHARD AVEDON


DOVIMA
Paris: The Red and the Black
Balmain
RICHARD AVEDON


DOVIMA
Paris by Night
Balenciaga
RICHARD AVEDON


DOVIMA
Balenciaga
RICHARD AVEDON


DOVIMA
Givenchy
RICHARD AVEDON


DOVIMA
Lanvin-Castillo
RICHARD AVEDON








Born Dorothy Virginia Margaret Juba in Jackson Heights, Queens, Dovima was one of the fashion world’s original supermodels. She used the name Dovima, constructed from the first two letters of her three given names and originally created for an imaginary companion dreamed up as a child when bedridden with rheumatic fever.

While Dovima found great success as a model, her love life was less so. Her second husband, Alan Murray, with whom she had a daughter Alison, often beat her so severely that she could not show up for bookings. The model Carmen Dell’Orefice confirmed that “Sadly she could only be with men who beat her. I’d find her on my doorstep black and blue and I’d take her in to live with me.” Escaping Murray for Los Angeles in pursuit of an acting career, Dovima ultimately divorced him but lost custody of her daughter.

Dovima appeared on screen as the quirky fashion   model, Marion in 1957’s ‘Funny Face’ starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. Astaire plays the fashion photographer ‘Dick Avery’ loosely based on photographer Richard Avedon who was hired as special visual consultant for the movie and supplied the fashion photography used in the film.


Richard Avedon-Fred Astaire
on the set of Funny Face
David Seymour
Harper's Bazaar August 1956

Explaining their magic together as photographer and muse, Dovima said “we became like mental Siamese twins, with me knowing what he wanted before he explained it.”





DOVIMA

EMBA MINK



DOVIMA
Jo Copeland of Pattullo
SAKOWITZ


DOVIMA
Hockanum Woolens


DOVIMA
Dynel - Fiber of Your Future


DOVIMA
Larry Aldrich


As one of the most important mannequins of the mid-century, Dovima worked tirelessly travelling the globe at a time when commercial air-travel was still in its nascent stage. As well as filling the editorial pages often shot at exotic locations or the fashion capitals of the world, Dovima’s image was used to represent a plethora of fashion and household advertisements as those from this issue of Harper’s Bazaar, October 1955, lay testament to.

At the peak of her career, as one of the fashion world’s highest paid models, Dovima was making $60 per hour. She left modeling at the age of 35, saying, “I didn’t want to wait until the camera turned cruel.”

Her later years were spent in Fort Lauderdale where she worked as a restaurant hostess, occasionally inviting close friends to pour through her trunk of photographs from her past life.

She died in 1990 at the age of 63.

Said Avedon, “she was the last of the great elegant, aristocratic beauties” and “the most remarkable and unconventional beauty of her time.”

In the today of the Supermodel, Evangelista, Crawford, Moss et als; the financial rewards and the comforts afforded them as they work their craft, make Dovima’s body of work all the more remarkable.

Were Dovima to have inhabited today’s fashion journals in the same profusion, she would have retired a very wealthy woman.
devodotcom

Harper's Bazaar October 1955
Harper's Bazaar September 1955

DOVIMA
1927-1990
ONCE A GREAT BEAUTY












dovima admin girl @devodotcom
FROM THE ARCHIVE
devodotcom posts on Dovima

Avedon and Dovima in Paris          1.6.12
Spot the Difference                 1.6.12
In Praise of Ernst Beadle           9.8.11
Dovima – Mid-Century Supremodel     7.3.11
December 1950                     11.30.10
Dovima With Elephants, Evening…   11.25.10





1 comment:

romolo corsini said...

I have this issue of all the pictures you posted! She is my favorite; very artistic as a model...