Prior to World War II, French women of means had their clothes made to measure in the grand Maisons de Couture. Middle class women would have these models copied from the fashion magazines by their own dressmakers. In the 1950s enterprising French manufacturers found young designers and began making affordable and very stylish readyto-wear.
Most fashion photographs at that time were taken in a studio or in elegant venues but as Marilyn Stafford recalls, “I preferred to take the models onto my beloved streets of Paris.” She would even let the street kids pose with the models. Moving to England in the mid1960s she found swinging London and its young designers, all of which are included in this exhibition.
Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio USA in 1925, Marilyn’s early dreams were for a theatrical career. Her photographic career was accidently launched in 1948 in New York where she had gone to find work on the Broadway stage. She was asked to photograph Albert Einstein by friends who were making a film about him.
Stafford shot to international acclaim after her work documenting Algerian refugees in Tunisia famously made the front page of The Observer in 1958, bringing their plight to world attention. “Photographs are visible to us everywhere we go. Some of mine were taken as newspaper or magazine assignments, some of my pictures are street scenes captured in a passing moment, some were taken for projects never completed. All of them are dear old friends who I would like you to meet. – Marilyn Stafford
Mentored by her friendship with Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Stafford’s work spans from 1948 – 1980 and covers a variety of subjects including refugees, tribal peoples, international fashion, and prominent historical figures. Her portraits include Edith Piaf, Italian writers Alberto Moravia, Carlo Levi and Italo Calvino, Lee Marvin, Joanna Lumley, Sir Roland Penrose, Sir Richard Attenborough and Le Corbusier among others. Her work has been published and exhibited all over the world. However Marilyn refutes any suggestion that her life has been all glamour, “I was just working, making a living, bumping along the road to one experience to the
The show will run from Saturday October 3rd to Sunday December 31st in the Olympus Gallery, Dimbola Museum and Galleries, Freshwater, Isle of Wight. www.dimbola.co.uk
Information on Dimbola Museum and Galleries
The former home of the pioneering Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron now houses the largest public collection in the UK of Cameron’s photographs and an historic camera collection. As well as hosting a programme of regularly changing contemporary photography and art exhibitions Dimbola is also home to a permanent display on the history of the Isle of Wight Festival.