Nothing makes my mouth water like a dope photograph featuring hot designer threads. At one point or another we’ve all lusted over a piece, bag, or accessory that would cost us our entire month’s pay plus our student loans. I’ve lusted so hard over a designer item to the point of ripping the photograph out of a magazine and posting it in my cube at work. Its my personal form of motivation. Women like Louise Dahl-Wolfe (1895-1989)were the reasons behind women’s obsession with fashion. She was a photographer who made designs from Dior, Balenciaga, and others look quite irresistible in the pages of top fashion publications. The lady had talent and was a beast behind a camera.
Louise’s admiration for art was apparent from the beginning, she just didnt know which artistic outlet appealed to her the most. She began her formal studies at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) in 1914. A year after graduation be found her niche. In 1921 she was introduced to the work of Anne Brigman. Although her heart was in photography the camera wasnt paying the bills. Louise was employed as a sign designer for Federal Electric Company until she returned to the classroom in 1923. She enrolled at Columbia University where she studied design and architecture. She remained there for a year and then returned to the work force as an assistant to decorator Beth Armstrong.
After exchanging vows in 1928, Mrs. Dahl-Wolfe decided to focus completely on photography. She worked diligently until 1933 when opportunity knocked on her door. From 1933 to 1960, Louise was the brain behind a New York photography studio. The studio became the haven for her work. All of her freelance shots for Bonwit Teller and Saks Fifth Avenue were taken in the studio. She soon began taking photos for Harper’s Bazaar. Yes, the Harper’s Bazaar.
Oh, don’t think the dream ended there. Louise became a staff photog for the top tier fashion publication from 1936-1958. During her 22 year reign, her art was featured on 86 covers. Her work was at the forefront of fashion photography yet Louise preferred to take portraits. She was honored enough to photograph icons of the time. Ever heard of Orson Wells or Christian Dior? Thought so.
After leaving Harper’s, Louise went back to freelance work. She contributed to magazines like Vogue and Sports Illustrated. She eventually retired from photography in 1960. One the camera was packed away for good, Louise spent the remainder of her life residing in Nashville until her untimely death in 1989 from pneumonia.
Image Layout: Phaymiss
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