Monday, August 2, 2010
Beach N0-Wear - Lisa Fonssagrives
Sand Fence, c.1935 (Lisa Fonssagrives)
Fonssagrives was born in Sweden. 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.