Tuesday, February 07, 2012


It goes without saying that design is influenced not just by those who create it and those who wear it but by those who manufacture the fantasy of fashion. We're talking of course, about the visionaries who through shooting, styling and scribing, create mood, tone, and aesthetic morés; oftentimes new and evocative worlds of image and dress.

Deborah Turbeville is one of those seminal taste-makers. So, when we read today on style.com that Turbeville is releasing a tome of her inimitable images on Rizzoli, Deborah Turbeville: The Fashion Pictures, we were filled with glee.

Turbeville has had an impact on fashion since her first foray into the industry when she was a fit model for seminal American designer, Claire McCardell. McCardell wound up letting Turbeville go as a human hanger because she wanted Turbeville to serve as her assistant. Turbeville's turn behind-the-scenes at McCardell's lead to a styling position at Harper's Bazaar in the early 60s, where she edited, styled and ran around with photographer Bob Richardson. The two's jaunts are still legendary - of course, they were arrested in Texas.

Sadly, the Texas incident lead to Turbeville's dismissal from Bazaar. After leaving the magazine, Turbeville worked with iconic photographers such as Diane Arbus and Richard Avedon before someone suggested that she pick up a camera and start shooting herself.

Which she did. While styling at Mademoiselle, with encouragement from Avedon, Turbeville was able to shoot her sittings for the magazine. Using a Pentax with soft-focus lens, Turbeville developed the jolie-laide style for which she is now renowned. Her images, often haunting, showcase what fashion usually shies away from: the blemishes of the image, an off crop, grainy slightly out-of-focus exposures, color bleeds, scratches, rough-hewn edging, perfect imperfection.

Now on the other side of the camera, Turbeville was able to work with the great stylists of the industry, famously collaborating often with Polly Mellen. Lucky for us, Turbeville continues to work today. Below is a recent campaign for Valentino.

Are you going gaga over Turbeville's work? The Valentino pictures make us want to do nothing but drape ourselves in delicate dresses from the Italian designer's house and wander aimlessly through the moor. Are you having a similar impulse? Well . . .

Shop vintage Valentino here and . . .

. . . modern Valentino here. Now, all we need is that moor. Topanga may have to suffice.

*Deborah Turbeville's images courtesy of style.com; be sure to read style.com's compelling and in-depth interview with Turbeville as she recollects anecdotes from her fashion career and discusses the images above.