Thursday, May 4, 2017

In Pursuit of Audrey

Behind the scenes, Avedon on left
Audrey Hepburn was born on May 4, 1929 in Brussels, Belgium, the daughter of a Belgian baroness and an Austrian-English businessman. Audrey fans know her life story as well as the plot of their favorite Audrey movie. They also know she never took a bad picture.

Of the many photo shoots over too few years, "Paris Pursuit" is the penultimate. Appearing in Harper's Bazaar in September, 1959, the portfolio was put together by the legendary Diana Vreeland, then Bazaar's fashion editor, and shot by Richard Avedon, one of Diana's and Audrey's favorites. Avedon was responsible for the magic that is "Funny Face", the 1957 musical about fashion magazines, models, clothes, love and Paris. An Avedon-like character (played by Fred Asaire) is Audrey's love interest.

"Paris Pursuit" has a playbill, dialogue in typewritten script-form and guest stars. In addition to Mel Ferrer, Audrey's husband at the time, the "cast" includes Buster Keaton, Zsa Zsa Gabor, the model China Machado and raconteur Art Buchwald. It fills 18 pages in the all-important September issue. The designers represented are Dior, Cardin, Chanel, Gres, Laroche, Patou, Ricci, Balmain, Griffe, etc.— anyone who was anyone in 1950s Paris couture.

The plot concerns an actress named Jemima Jones (Audrey) pursuing and being pursued around Paris by an American millionaire named Dallas O'Hara (Mel). The story line and dialogue are droll in the extreme and wouldn't win an Oscar. In the days before Photoshop, maneuvering those multiple images would have been the test of a master retoucher's skill. There's never been another fashion editorial quite like it.

Please enjoy this Audrey treat on what would have been her 88th birthday.


1 comment:

  1. Just plain fantastic. Thanks for the heads-up -- I had never heard of this.