Norman Parkinson, gentleman photographer.

BACK TO FORMALITY

London, United Kingdom, April 1950

‘Photographed in Savile Row, this bowler-hatted trio typify the formal trend in masculine fashion. Left to right, Peter Coats, former Comptroller to Field Marshal Earl Wavell in India, now on the staff of Condé Nast Publications. William Aykroyd, who was awarded the Military Cross for service in Normandy, and Mark Gilbey, a cousin of the well-known Edwardian sportsman and clothes-critic Sir Walter Gilbey.’ British Vogue, April 1950.

The New Mayfair Edwardians (Peter Coats; William Ackroyd; Mark Gilbey) 1950. By Norman Parkinson.

 

 

Norman Parkinson CBE     April 1913 – February 1990

Norman Parkinson started out photographing debs, actresses and nobles for London society magazines but came of age as a photographer in the years after the Second World War.

He belonged to a generation of fashion photographers who breathed life into their work. He once said in an interview that his goal was the “unlocking of the models knees” explaining in The Telegraph that “all the girls had their knees bolted together… I thought, I don’t know any girls who live like that.”

Looking at his post war work the elegance that was so important then is still evident but there is also so much life in the candid shots he did for Vogue. Taking the models out of the artificially lit studio and freeing them from rigid poses, he captured what had been missing from a lot of fashion photography in the late 1940’s, a sense of the unexpected.

He is often described as charismatic, standing out with his flamboyant style, at 6 foot 5 inches tall wearing his trademark Kashmiri wedding hat and neatly clipped colonial moustache.  He modestly described himself as a “snapper,” he was the product of an apprenticeship and saw himself as a craftsman rather than an artist.

The Art of Travel, 1951 by Norman Parkinson

The Art of Travel, 1951 

photo-norman-parkinson-new-york-new-york-pippa-diggle-and-robin-miller-parkinsons-neighbours-in-new-york-east-river-drive-new-york1960

Pippa Diggle and Robin Miller, Parkinson’s neighbours in New York, East River Drive, New York circa 1960

27d61c5629af4b8eb73325ec96ea731f

Norman Parkinson - Hobnails Inn 1951

Hobnail Inn

Model Wenda Parkinson photographed for British Vogue, February 1951