February 9, 2017

The Fashion Shoot that Launched the Swinging Sixties

The Swinging Sixties swung into Tudor City in January, 1962, when British photographer David Bailey and his model/muse Jean Shrimpton arrived for a fashion shoot for Vogue magazine. He was 25, she was 20, and they were a couple. Both were unknown at the time.

It was Bailey's first assignment for Vogue, and he was intent on shaking up conventional fashion photography, which typically featured genteel models posed against glamorous backdrops. By contrast, Bailey's rather stark pictures were done in a realistic, kitchen-sink style that struck Diana Vreeland, Vogue's editor-in-chief, as very modern. She ran sixteen pages of the session and made Bailey and Shrimpton overnight stars.
Tudor City was one of the locales for the shoot. Above, an iconic portrait of Shrimpton in the 43rd St. cul-de-sac opposite the U.N. As seen here, Bailey's uncomplicated, realistic style was one part offbeat (the teddy bear), one part gritty (the curb-your-dog sign), and one part cool (the sunglasses).
Above, from the same session, Shrimpton in Robert Moses Playground, and amidst a sea of signage on the Upper East Side. Bailey later said "she was magic. In a way she was the cheapest model in the world ‒ you only needed to shoot half a roll of film and then you had it."

Over time, the session became known as "the shoot that launched the Swinging Sixties," and finally grew to such legendary proportions that the BBC adapted the story into a TV film, We'll Take Manhattanin 2012.

Below left, the real Bailey and Shrimpton, and their dopplegangers, actors Karen Gillan and Aneurin Barnard (on the roof of No.45).


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