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Fashion modeling: The mid-century shift & its icons

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A scholar friend once mentioned that the word “Classic” comes from the Arabic expression كلَس; which describes an object stiffening up, resembling the hardening of limestone.

Going the Conde Nast archive, you can see how the etymology of the word fits models in photos before the 1950s. And as with all rules, there were a few, quite outstanding exceptions.
*Conde Nast is the building containing the offices of various magazines, namely fashion & lifestyle ones such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue…etc.

The shift was basically from the stiff, ‘classic’ and rigid poses to the point where feminine randomness and the model’s own flair completed the vision and the message beautifully
It wasn’t until the 70’s that creative directors, agencies and photographers started adopting this for their work

Take a look

The Norm 30’s-50’s:

Model wearing Vera Maxwell's camel-colored back-buttoned suit 1944 Photo John RawlingsSlim Keith Horst P. Horst, Vogue, February 1949

The Exceptions:

Ivy Nicholson: The look

1954. Balenciaga hat. Model Ivy Nicholson. Photo by Henry Clarke (B1917 - D1996) Ivy Nicholson photographed by Philippe Pottier, 1951. Pinned by


Judy Dent: Subtlety

1961, Yorkshire, UK, Judy Dent by Frank Horvat Judy Dent, 1962. Photo by Eugene Vernier (via hollyhocksandtulips)

Nancy Berg: Zest

Nancy Berg applying lipstick, 1950sA terrifically lovely model sports Coro Craft jewelry in this ad from 1956.Nancy Berg is wearing silk taffeta dress by Traina-Norell, photo by Erwin Blumenfeld used as Vogue cover May 1953


Suzy Parker: Spice

lady in red: Suzy Parker in a Dress by Norman Norell, Life 1952  by Milton H. Greenesuzie parker photos | Suzy Parker | Flickr - Photo Sharing!Suzy Parker


These women marked the beginning of the golden age of modelling that came some four decades later, but that’s for another post (maybe)




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