Sixties Fashion Photography

Written by jessica alzarana
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Sixties Fashion Photography
Photographs by sixties fashion photographer Richard Avedon displayed prior to auction. (Mario Tama/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Sixties fashion photography embraced the bubbling dynamism of the era. Instead of simply capturing beautiful women standing still as mannequins in lovely clothes, fashion photographers of the sixties showed the modern woman living an independent life. Fashion models stepped out of the studio and into the streets of Paris and Rome, and editors began showing images of women pausing outside a cafe to listen to a street musician, or throwing her head back in laughter. Photographers of the sixties bent the traditional rules of fashion photography and blazed a new trail that influences the contemporary fashion and photography world to this day.

Bob Richardson

1960s fashion photographer Bob Richardson brought a gritty sexuality to a fashion world that previously handled couture with a pristine white glove. His images defied tradition and left a lasting legacy through the use of techniques now rendered common. For example, Richardson was the first fashion photographer who underexposed film until the details of the clothes darkened into obscurity. Bob Richardson received a diagnosis of schizophrenia in the 1960s, the symptoms of which worsened with his use of drugs and alcohol. After a period of homelessness in the 1980s, fans rediscovered Richardson's work and he once again shot images for the world's most glamorous fashion magazines. Richardson passed away in 2005. His son Terry carries on in his father's role as a fashion photographer.

Richard Avedon

During the early 1960s photographer Richard Avedon held gallery exhibitions of his work at the Smithsonian, published compilations of his work in hardback, and covered the civil rights movement as a photojournalist. In April 1965, Avedon guest edited the 20th anniversary edition of Harper's Bizarre. The cover featured model Jean Shrimpton wearing a spacesuit-inspired pink helmet in a photograph shot by Avedon himself. From 1966-1990, he worked as a staff photographer for Vogue magazine. Avedon's images showed women in action. His models laugh as they leap and skate across the page, all while impeccably dressed in beautiful clothes.

Sixties Fashion Photography
Richard Avedon in 2003 (Evan Agostini/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

David Bailey

British Vogue hired David Bailey as a photographer in 1960, and he spent the decade documenting the celebrities and models of "Swinging London." Bailey injected a punk aesthetic into the fashion world through his dramatic lighting and austere settings, and cemented his relationship with the world of rock 'n' roll with portraits of the Beatles and Mick Jagger. He published two books over the course of the decade, "Box of Pin-ups" in 1964 and "Goodbye Baby & Amen: A Sarabande for the Sixties" in 1969. Bailey's fashion work often featured the most famous models of the day, including Jean Shrimpton, Twiggy, and Penelope Tree wearing the newest fashions on the streets of New York City and London.

Norman Parkinson

When the 1960s hit, Norman Parkinson's resume already included nearly two dozen years as a fashion photographer for Harper's Bazaar and both British and American Vogue. Parkinson began the 60s as associate editor of Queen Magazine, an influential fashion magazine. In the late 60s, he resumed his position as a staff photographer for Vogue. Parkinson continually reinvented himself throughout his career, maintaining a reputation for professionalism and charm throughout his documentation of the beautiful women that introduced English style to the world.

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