In a world of quick fashion fixes, few discern or remember the great masters of fashion photography and their important artistic contributions, even though their photographs have been digested by the masses many times over. Case in point: the great Francesco Scavullo (1921-2004)!
It is nearly impossible to go through the 1970s and 1980s without encountering a Scavullo image. His eye – really his lens – was omnipresent from magazine covers and editorials to advertising campaigns and celebrity portraits. The Scavullo ‘click’ was his ability to seductively extract the “beautiful”… partly due to his ability to make the subject so comfortable that his/her ease made the shot glow from within.
What many may not realize is that Francesco Scavullo is the man behind some of the most famous Cosmopolitan magazine covers as well as Seventeen, Harper’s Bazaar, and Rolling Stone. He is the man who turned cleavage and a long mane of hair into a glamorous trademark reworked to heighten each woman’s type of beauty, and his images, by the way, never flirted with the cheap side.
If you like this post, be sure to also check these out:
- Helen Gurley Brown (1922-2012) – A One and True Original
- Behind the Lens | George Hurrell and the Hollywood Portrait
- Behind the Lens | WEEGEE: Photographer for the Masses
- Behind the Lens | Bill Cunningham and the Séeberger brothers
Francesco Scavullo‘s personality, both lively and extravagant, marked the iconic and decadent period he is mostly associated with. He was close to and favored by everyone from Andy Warhol to the Hollywood set and Studio 54 cognoscente, who made him not only a witness but also a contributor to this ‘wild party’ (he was once arrested for walking nude on New York’s posh Park Avenue while holding a sign demanding that Marilyn Monroe be made the patron saint of Hollywood!).
Fashion photography may have been, until recently, considered merely an afterthought of the discipline, despite the fact that 20th century greats like George Hoyningen-Huené, Horst P. Horst, Cecil Beaton, Irving Penn and Helmut Newton made their marks with the genre. But since his death in 2004, Francesco Scavullo’s influence is returning to the forefront, becoming more apparent and visible in the works of a new crop of photographers who obviously studied his unmistakably seductive shots.