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April 17, 2021

Stunning Fashion Photography by Richard Rutledge in the 1950s

In the years following World War II, Condé Nast had a grand photography studio in the Graybar Building in midtown Manhattan. It was stocked with the latest equipment, and a stable of photographers and assistants cranking out fashion spreads, portraits, and product still lifes. One of those studio photographers, Richard Rutledge, is relatively unknown to us today, but for a 15-year period following the war he was one of the most frequently published photographers in Vogue, Glamour, and House & Garden.

Fashion photography by Richard Rutledge in the 1950s

Rutledge, who died in Paris one week prior to his 62nd birthday, in the autumn of 1985, might have been called a ‘utility player’ had he been a baseball player instead of a photographer. He was comfortable shooting in black and white or color; in the studio or outdoors; with SLR or 8×10 plate; fashion, portraits, travel, still life—it was all the same to him. In his own words, he found darkroom work ‘a chore’, what he liked best were the results.

While Rutledge’s black-and-white work is accomplished, his color work stands above. The color films used during Rutledge’s day have an incredible depth that, when combined with his skillful compositions, produce shockingly modern results. He preferred animated and natural expressions on models, and often used playful banter to coax the person from behind the model’s façade. He also seems to have had a fondness for red; the color is incorporated into nearly every shot.

These stunning color photos are part of his work that Richard Rutledge took portraits of classic beauties in the 1950s.

Dovima wearing a brown flannel suit with a red velvet collar, matching felt hat with grosgrain band of red and blue silk twill scarf, 1951

Model wearing a brown and white window pane plaid flannel shirt and a brown wool twill skirt, 1951

Evelyn Tripp wearing a necklace of reversed seed-cowl pearls, 1952

Model is wearing a sheer pink shirtwaist blouse and a bell-shaped skirt by Nelly de Grab, 1952

Model is wearing a slim tweed coat, a matching skirt with a single walking pleat, and wool jersey blouse with neckline tie, matching gloves and raspberry cloche hat, 1952

Model is wearing a wool jersey blouse and a slim pleated skirt, 1952

Model is wearing a wool jersey blouse that ties at the neck, a wool jersey cardigan with black knit ribbing, and a slim pleated skirt in matching wool jersey, 1952

Model is wearing a wool jersey cardigan with dolman sleeves worn with a skirt of gathered jersey above a tight under-sheath of taffeta, 1952

Model is wearing s sleeveless black jersey evening blouse and tulle dancing skirt above a taffeta underskirt, 1952

Model with dog, Glamour, August 1952

Suzy Parker, 1952

Model wearing a floral dressing gown, 1953

Evelyn Tripp wearing a pale yellow summer party dress by Kane, with matching mules by Valley, 1954

Mary Jane Russell and Cherry Nelms wearing shade-brimmed hats both of painted silk picturing flowers and butterflies, ringed with grosgrain ribbon, 1954

Nina de Voogt & Patsy Shally, 1954

Anne St Marie, 1955

Model is wearing a silk shantung shirt dress, printed with a blur of red and pink carnations, 1955

Model wearing bathing cap, Vogue, June 1956

Outfit all by Greta Paltry, 1956

Joanna McCormick, 1957

Two models in Rose Marie Reid swimsuits, 1957

A model wearing Clairol hair dye, 1958

Model wearing a red one-piece swimsuit, 1958

Models legs are running in red glacé lizard shoes by Fleming-Joffe, 1958

A woman buried in sand at a beach, Glamour, May 1959

Model is wearing a two piece calico print swimsuit with terry cloth cardy by Cabana, 1959

(Photo © Richard Rutledge)


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