April 10, 2018

The 1940s Women's Fashion Photography by Louise Dahl-Wolfe

Born in San Francisco, Louise Dahl-Wolfe (1895-1989) worked as a staff photographer for Harper's Bazaar from 1936 through 1958. She introduced a witty, relaxed, and natural aspect to fashion photography and, in the process, helped "define the post-war look of American women."

Dahl-Wolfe also made memorable portrait photographs of leading figures from politics and the arts, "discovered" a teenage Lauren Bacall, and was a pioneer in the technique of color photography.

Dahl-Wolfe's work was shown in important touring exhibitions, and she had several retrospectives. In 1989 Dahl-Wolfe received an honorary doctorate from Moore College of Art in Philadelphia, the first women's art college in the United States; her work is often cited as a significant influence on later photographers, notably Richard Avedon.

The 1940s women's fashion photography by Louise Dahl-Wolfe 

“Louise Dahl-Wolfe was the definition of elegance and beauty. She led the way out of the European tradition into the supremacy of American photography.” - Richard Avedon.

“Her work was inventive and new. The things she did with her models and with color were so fresh. I always admired her: in fact I was quite jealous of her!” - Horst P. Horst.

Here is a stunning photo collection from her work that defined women's fashion in the 1940s.

 Liz Gibbons in green satin evening coat by Charles James, 1940

Liz Gibbons is wearing a hat from Bergdorf Goodman, October 1940

 Bobby Munroe in a one-shoulder dress by Hattie Carnegie, jewelry by Marvella in Havana, Cuba, February 1941

 Model in a Nettie Rosenstein suit with brooch by Tiffany worn at the waist, 1941

Mrs. John C. Wilson is wearing dinner/theater suit by Mainbocher, December 1941


Betty Bond in negligee by Fischer in her bedroom at her home, Frenchtown, New Jersey, April 1942

Betty Bond wearing a hat by Lilly Dache and jewelry by Schlumberger, March 1942

Bijou Barrington in pants and top by Jay Thorpe, Taliesen West - Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home in Phoenix, Arizona, January 1942

Bijou Barrington in skirt and halter top by Jay Thorpe, Taliesen West - Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home in Phoenix, Arizona, January 1942

Bijou Barrington, February 1942

Liz Gibbons (l) and Bijou Barrington (r), The Andes, Peru, May 1942

Vera Maxwell in her own design with hat by Lilly Dache and jewelry by Verdura, March 1942

 Betty Bacall in a high ceilinged living room at the Ritz Tower, New York, March 1943

Model is wearing fur coat by Traina-Norell, October 1943

Betty Anderson is wearing a skirt and sleeveless top by Mary Stevens and wide leather belt by Phelps, January 1944

Dorian Leigh in Claire McCardell's fitted tweed suit with hood that folds down into a turtle neck, 1944

Lenore Simon in a coat by Roxspun and hat by Hattie Carnegie, NYC, August 1944

Model in striped 'town and country' dress with leather accessories by Jo Copeland for Patullo, 1944

Princess Natalia Paley in dinner/theatre ensemble by Mainbocher, 1944

Shirt top and pencil-skirt in printed wool-rayon crepe with belt and buttons in blond calf by Traina-Norell, panama hat by John Frederics, May 1944

Short-sleeved satin shirtwaist, May 1944

Dorian Leigh (l) and Lisa Fonssagrives, February 1945

Dorian Leigh in McCardell's cotton print summer dress worn with leather strapped sandals, 1945

Lauren Bacall is wearing a navy blue off-shoulder top with bare midriff and brown shorts by Carolyn Schnurer, 1945

Model in dove grey yoked short jacket with full sleeves by Pauline Trigère, 1945

Toni Hollingsworth in a coat by Roxspun, hat by John Frederics, August 1945

Beachwear by Claire McCardell, 1946

Betty Bridges (l) in Carolyn Schnurer and Bobby Monroe (r) in Duchess Royal, Home of Raimundo Castro-Maia (1894-1968) in Tijuca, Brazilr, May 1946

Model is wearing gown and stole by Lanvin, Hôtel Soubise (now site of Musée de Archives), Paris, November 1946

Christian Dior redingote, November 1947

Dior's 'New Look' coat in black wool crépe, Paris, 1947

Exquisite ball gown by Christian Dior, Chateau de Madrid, 1947

Grey wool suit by Hardy Amies, 1947

Inga is wearing a yellow wool coat by Original Modes, January 1947

Leslie Dickson wears bathing suit by Hermès, Useppa Island Club, Sarasota, Florida, May 1947

Model Betty Threat in a Charles James evening dress, April 1947

Model in strapless summer evening dress by Adele Simpson, 1947

Model is wearing a madras sundress by Mildred Orrick and sandals by Bernardo, 1947

Model is wearing suit and hat by Hattie Carnegie, Louise Dahl-Wolfe's studio, March 1947

Natalie Paine in dress by Philip Magone, hat and matching gloves by John Frederics, Louise Dahl-Wolfe's studio in New York City, March 1947

Natalie Paine wearing two-piece bathing suit, January 1947

 Sandra Payson in suit by Roxspun, hat by Sally Victor, Louise Dahl-Wolfe's studio in New York City, March 1947

 Silk satin fringed evening gown by Jacques Heim, Chateau de Madrid, 1947

Slim Keith, 1947

Betty Threatt (r) and model wearing summer dresses, May 1948

Betty Threatt in claret velvet evening coat by Pauline Trigère, 1948

Evelyn Tripp in a Joset Walker dress with chinchilla scarf and muff, November 1948

Evening dresses, 1948

Model in combination sun dress and bathing suit by Cole of California, wired-bra top clamps on to leave back exposed, swimming trunks worn under skirt, 1948

Model in gold swimsuit interwoven with Lastex is by Mabs of Hollywood, model in pink suit is by Gantner, 1948

 Models in two evening dresses by Adrian feature painterly starfish prints and demure eyelet ruffles, 1948

 Virginia Stewart is wearing a sundress by Joset Walker in the California desert near Yuma, May 1948

Betty Threatt in ruby-red silk velvet dinner-suit by Christian Dior, September 1949

Betty Threatt is wearing Traina-Norell's knit dress appliqued with beige silk flowers embroidered in gold, black fox stole by Maximilian, October 1949

Betty Threatt, October 1949

Evelyn Tripp in Hattie Carnegie, March 1949

Leopard print halter top over white silk chiffon skirt by Norman Norell, 1949

Liz Benn in emerald green satin gown by Omar Kiam for Ben Reig, Miriam Haskell jewels, October 1949

Mary Jane Russell in dress by Henry Rosenfeld, 1949

Mary Jane Russell is wearing a suit by Handmacher, August 1949

Model is wearing a Sophie Original short evening dress by Sophie Gimbel, 1949

Playsuit designed by Tina Leser, 1949





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