I was watching Americas Next Top Model the other day (I love it) and a thought occurred to me. (what? it does happen occasionally) I am missing a crucial part to my vintage histories section! I’ve written about designers, artists and movie stars, yet, neglected to write anything about the amazing models that were about, particularly in the 40s and 50s!
I was going to do a ‘models through the decades post’ but decided I wanted to create more of “model miniseries’ This way you can fully appreciate the true beauty of these women. Women that got to model for the original greats, Dior, Fath, Balenciaga, Patou, Chanel…… I die. Can you imagine being in the presence of these amazing designers AND wearing all of their fabulous creations??
Any-who, before I get lost in a dream where I am a 1940’s super model/goddess and besties with Fath and Dior, I’ll bring you on to todays first model and one of my favorites, for obvious reasons, Dorian Leigh.
Dorian was born in Texas in 1917. Before she began her modelling career, Dorian worked as a file clerk at a department store in Manhattan and as a tabulator keeping track of radio program ratings. She had an aptitude for math, mechanical engineering, and drawing and obtained a mechanical engineering degree from New York University.
With this degree she went on to work at Bell laboratories and then Eastern airlines helping to design airplane wings. (um, hello genius) She quit her job at eastern airlines after failing to get promoted, because she was a woman. A chance meeting with Diana Vreeland, then the editor of Harper’s Bazaar, would see her photographed and put on the cover of Harper’s less than 2 days later, for her very first modeling assignment, she was 27.
Relatively old for a model just starting out, but, she was a natural and everyone assumed her to be only 19 or 20, despite having 2 kids already. Her career took off and in 1946 alone she was on the cover of Vogue 6 times. Photographers like Cecil Beaton and Richard Avedon considered her a muse, along with countless top designers.
Dorian’s actual modelling career did not span much more than ten years. She opened her own modeling agency which she would eventually have to close due to her 3rd husband embezzling so much money from her it left her broke. Her personal life is full of affairs/divorces/ money problems and disputes with her parents, sister and even her own children. So intrigued I was at the little tidbits of info I gained while researching this post, I decided I would order her autobiography, written in 1980 titled “the girl who had everything” Then I discovered that even USED, it is 148 dollars. Never mind then. Next time for model history, I will feature her sister, another famous model in the 1950s, Suzy Parker. Until then…X