She still has this 'aura' - graceful and so charming. It was overwhelming to spend the day with her and so interesting to listen to her stories and talk about this mid - century era I am so in love with.
When we together had a look at some of my 1950s Vogue magazines, it was incredible to watch her looking at the mannequins and
always knowing their names. Did you ever had a look at mid-century fashion magazines?
1956, Norman Parkinson
1952, Horst P. Horst
The models presenting the garments had so many facets. I was not able to name each of them, as in many cases they looked completely different.
Not for Barbara! She knew and identified all of them in literally a millisecond!
for Adele Simpson, Vogue 1952
Barbara worked together with many well - known designers, like Coco Chanel or Christian Dior, famous photographers, such as Lillian Bassman, Richard Avedon and Norman Parkinson and knew artists, such as Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Greta Garbo to name just a few examples.
As one of the most successful 1950s mannequins alongside with Suzy Parker, Dovima, Sunny Harnett, Jean Patchett and Evelyn Tripp - she was published in many of the Vogues I own. Hence, I could not resist to ask for an autograph :)
for Thalhimers, Vogue 1952
Especially to Lillian Bassman she had a long - standing friendship she combines so many great memories with. As her 'muse', Barbara was a preferred subject for photoshootings that resulted in these lovely kind of 'blurred' artworks, Lillian was and still is so famous for.
By Lillian Bassman, for Harper's Bazaar,
By Lillian Bassman, for Harper's Bazaar wearing Christian Dior, Paris, 1949
By Lillian Bassman, for Harper's Bazaar, NY, 1950
In 1947, Barbara had her first photoshooting for Vogue magazine. She was the only mannequin that fit into a famous dress of
Bergdorf Goodman because of her tiny 20'' waist. This was kind of the 'start' of this young women from Harlem, becoming a supermodel.
for Vogue magazine, 1947
Barbara still has this magazine page, framed, standing in her living room and showing this young, beautiful women in a stunning tulle dress on a bottlegreen sofa with the title (not shown on picture):
'The new beauty is part attitude.'
We talked for hours and it felt like a minute.
Barbara showed me a lot of wonderful pictures and I became a sponge, grasping any detail, single word, anecdote and experience she shared with me.
I can say that this was one of the most interesting conversations in my life so far and I am thankful for this lovely day, spending time with Barbara and her husband.
A part of this day I keep for myself because it was for me personally - an extraordinary experience. However, in the following you
will find some of the really interesting insights Barbara gave me :)
The picture (left) shows, Barbara holding a photograph portraying her at a time when she did not yet start modeling.
DID YOU KNOW?
Insights from a 1950s mannequin...
>>> Barbara was the first american model for the young and shy Christian Dior.
>>> In 1955, she was together with Dovima, Patchett and Tripp on the cover of the 'Photography' magazine with the headline; 'Meet the most expensive models in the world' as she earned 20 times more in annual salary as the american average that time.
>>> However, models in general were pretty unknown. In magazines, there were never mentioned by name. They were a 'mean' to present fashion and the best of them received a well salary and the opportunity to travel around the world in return. For the women it was 'A job ...'. Barbara described it as '... after the shoots we went back home and closed the doors ...'.
>>> There was a clear seperation between 'couture models' and 'lingerie models'. Couture models were not allowed to do lingerie and vice versa.
>>> It was part of the modeling job to do your own hair and make up.
>>> All models wore waist cinchers.
for L'AIGLON, Vogue 1952
>>> Models never got 'paid' with clothing - it was cheaper to pay them in form of money.
>>> Models were never invited to fashion shows of the designer they worked for, like it is popular nowadays.
WHAT BARBARA THINKS ABOUT ...
... Dita Van Teese:
'I don't know her but she is very pretty!'
(I showed her a picture of Dita on my mobile phone.)
... modern models:
'Why don't they move?' She cannot understand this typical posing, as she was mostly photographed smoothly moving.
... New York:
'You know - when you come to New York, it's like the city embraces you!'
... me & 'Franziska Schlupski PRETTIE LANES':
'What you do is terrific and I just hope, you keep going!'
She said with a big and bright smile.
This post is dedicated to the wonderful Barbara Mullen Morel
- a warmhearted, humorous and impressive woman.
I am already looking forward to meeting you again! <3