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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lisa Fonssagrives...the Muse...........

"It is always the dress, it is never, never the girl. I'm just a good clothes hanger." Lisa Fonssagrives-Time magazine, 1949 

Arguably the very first supermodel...........the muse of Irvin Penn, and of the defining models of the post-war era.

Just a clothes hanger? Mais non!............ :) 

2011...the Centenary of her birth in 1911

Lisa Fonssagrives (May 17, 1911 – February 4, 1992), born Lisa Birgitta Bernstone was a Swedish fashion model widely credited as the first supermodel.

Fonssagrives was born in Sweden (variously reported as Gothenburg or Uddevalla) and raised in Uddevalla. As a child, she took up painting, sculpting and dancing. She went to Mary Wigman's school in Berlin and studied art and dance. After returning to Sweden, she opened a dance school. She moved from Sweden to Paris to train for ballet (after participating with choreographer Astrid Malmborg in an international competition) and worked as a private dance teacher with Fernand Fonssagrives, which then led to a modeling career, and she would say that modeling was "still dancing". While in Paris in 1936, photographer Willy Maywald discovered her in an elevator and asked her to model hats for him. Fonssagrives' photographs were then sent to Vogue, and Vogue photographer Horst took some test photographs of her. Before Fonssagrives came to the United States in 1939, she was already a top model. Her image appeared on the cover of many magazines during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, including Town & Country, Life, Time, Vogue, and the original Vanity Fair. She was reported as "the highest paid, highest praised, high fashion model in the business".Fonssagrives once described herself as a "good clothes hanger".

She worked with fashion photographers including George Hoyningen-Huene, Man Ray, Horst, Erwin Blumenfeld, George Platt Lynes, Richard Avedon, and Edgar de Evia. She married Parisian photographer Fernand Fonssagrives in 1935; they divorced and she later married another photographer, Irving Penn, in 1950. She went on to become a sculptor in the 1960s and was represented by the Marlborough Gallery in Manhattan.

Fonssagrives died, aged 80, in New York, survived by her second husband, Irving Penn and her two children: her daughter Mia Fonssagrives-Solow, a costume designer, and her son, Tom Penn, a designer.

The Elton John photography collection auction held by Christie's on October 15, 2004 sold a 1950 Irving Penn photograph of his wife, Lisa Fonssagrives, for $57,360.


  1. some phallic symbol in that one Vogue cover! all-too-obvious.

  2. Yup...caught that one, too :0 very was pretty

  3. Are you paying over $5 for each pack of cigs? I'm buying high quality cigarettes at Duty Free Depot and I save over 50%.