Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Original Muse

With the constant barrage of information and images that we receive each and every day, sometimes it's hard not to feel inured to the the influx of media, and completely uninspired by what the world has to offer.  Before there was Paris and Lindsey, Kate and Naomi, and all the other bobble-headed beauties who live their lives under our collective scrutiny, there was Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, who is cited as the first supermodel, but never once lived her life as a celebrity.  The wife of legendary photographer Irving Penn, Fonssagrives-Penn was born in Sweden, and started out as a ballerina before becoming a model.  Appearing on the covers of Vogue and Vanity Fair multiple times, and working professionally as a model well into her 40's, she is famously quoted as describing herself as nothing more than "a good clothes hanger."  Of course, this couldn't be further from the truth, and her modern style and sense of dignity, which was most beautifully captured in her husband's photographs, still inspires today.  Most recently, Fonssagrives-Penn served as the muse for John Galliano's Fall 08 couture collection for Christian Dior, which is appropriate since she completely embodied Dior's New Look, bearing the perfect figure for the house's signature wasp-waist (her waist was a legendary 17 inches).   It also feels appropriates since her image carries a sort of old world majesty that seems no longer extant.  Perhaps it's the fact that she passed away sixteen years ago, leaving a dearth of information which we can only fill in with our imaginations, that makes her seem so mysterious and other-worldly.  Melancholic as this may be, that's what true muses are for, inspiring our imaginations...

Magdalena Frackowiak playing one of the many modernized versions of Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn at the Fall 2008 Dior Couture runway show.

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1 comment:

thesearchforchic said...

She seems to has this aura of an aristocrat, so beautiful and elegant.

Very inspiring indeed.