Monday, February 02, 2009

1940 Evening Gown

1940 hoyningen-huene, bergdorf goodman adI received three issues of vintage Vogue magazine in the mail on Friday and haven't had a chance to look at them yet (crazy weekend!). This morning I opened the cover of the April 15, 1940 issue, and this image on page 1 stopped me cold.

The ad is for a 1940 evening gown sold by Bergdorf Goodman. White crepe with lyre shaped embroidery at the bust and hip in silver and crystals. Incredibly gorgeous, isn't it? By the way, did you think huge shoulder pads were an invention of the 1980's? Think again!

This photograph was taken by George Hoyningen-Huene. Born in St. Petersberg in 1900, he fled the Russian Revolution, moving to London and then Paris. By 1925, he had become the chief fashion photographer for French Vogue. In 1935, he moved to New York, where he worked almost exclusively for Harper's Bazaar.

Even though it looks simple and spare, the composition of this photo is very detailed with the overall image divided vertically in thirds. Hoyningen-Huene mimics the lyre embroidery with the use of an ornate antique lyre that the model leans on at the left. The background is split, and the image of the model is overlaid on a closeup of the lyre in the center. The right third of the image is blank.

You probably will recognize some of the more famous of Hoyningen-Huene's photos shown at the Staley Wise Gallery website, including this image Divers, from 1930.