Aside from her distinctive style, revolutionary editorial and keen eye, Diana Vreeland was renowned for her many diverse creative collaborations. Among the most dynamic and long-lived of these was her 26-year partnership with groundbreaking photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe.
A pioneer of modern photographic techniques, Dahl-Wolfe's images for Harper's Bazaar resulted in an entirely new genre of fashion photography. During WWII, the fashion team was forced to shoot in the U.S. Rather than being impeded, however, they traveled the country discovering exciting, new locations.
The iconic results included 83 covers and thousands of both color and black-and-white photographs in locations as raw and quirky as an air force missile testing center, the shores of Laguna Beach and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. As one of the first proponents of combining full color film with on-location shooting Dahl-Wolfe's bold and naturally lit photographs for Harper's influenced a new generation of photographers.
Dahl-Wolfe had a gift for portraiture; she and Mrs. Vreeland convinced a plethora of cultural and political icons to pose for the magazine, including Orson Welles, Christian Dior and Cecil Beaton. Perhaps the best example of Dahl-Wolfe's relaxed and often humorous approach to fashion photography was her 1943 cover shoot of Lauren Bacall (whom she and Vreeland are credited with discovering) outside the American Red Cross blood donor window.
Dahl-Wolfe’s immense impact and legacy is particularly notable given that fashion photography at that time was a male-dominated industry. A woman in a man’s world, she amassed a collection of work that to this day can scarcely be rivaled. She believed that her camera allowed her to “paint with light,” and it was this, combined with her relaxed styling, that came to define the “New American Look” for which she and Mrs. Vreeland are so famous.
Photographs by: Louise Dahl-Wolfe