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Eugène Vernier: fashion, femininity & form

Eugène Vernier: fashion, femininity & form, with essays by Robin Muir and Becky E. Conekin, was published in hardback by Hirmer Publishers on Monday 19th November price £39.95, (220 pages, 200 illustrations 23 x 28 cm, hardcover ISBN 3-7774-5151-0). Trade distribution in the UK and Ireland is through Orca Book Services, Poole, Dorset, UK.

Fashion, femininity & form, is the first book of Vernier’s life or pictures. His early work documenting the exploits of the Free French under De Gaulle (based in London) in North Africa as a ciné cameraman, and subsequently for Pathé News, left him very much with photo documentary eye. He joined Vogue in an era towards the end of Cecil Beaton’s career, alongside that of Norman Parkinson, and bridging the gap into those of David Bailey and Terry Donovan, bringing his ‘sense of place’ to fashion photography. The book shows elements from his newsreels (with QR codes to see them on the web), over 100 of his favourite images from the pages of Vogue that he chose especially for this book before he died in December 2011, and a few of the commercial and advertising images that, along with some of the Vogue images in the book, he had kept around him all his life.

Essayist Robin Muir, photographic historian, expert on and author/curator of Vogue photographers, surveys Vernier’s images in Vogue and his place in the magazine’s history. Becky E. Conekin, fashion historian, formerly Course Director at the London College of Fashion, and currently Senior Lecturer in History at Yale University, writes ‘Taking Off’, showing how Vernier charted key changes in London fashion.

The book is dominated by a chronological central plate section of some of the finest images in Vernier’s career. However what sets it apart is the stories behind the images, not just from Venier himself, but from the key Vogue models of the time, including Jean Shrimpton, Tania Mallet, Celia Hammond, Jill Kennington and Ros Watkins. Tania Mallet, who was Vernier’s model in his favourite shoot for Vogue, went on to be the Bond girl, Tilly Masterson in 1964’s Goldfinger.

As a photographer, Vernier was uninterested in the cult of celebrity, regarding himself as a craftsman in the trade of fashion photography where he sought to bring out the very best of every element – the model, the clothes, the moment and the place. The Vernier ‘look’ is one of femininity. He captured his models when they were relaxed, enjoying wearing the clothes and confident that the photographer would only show both model and clothes at their best.

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