Dovima With Elephants Richard Avedon Essay

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It heavily contrasts against the white making the flower on her breast stand out in a striking way. The flower is also quite large. Flowers are found very prominently in fashion of the 1950s. Much of Dior's earliest designs heavily featured flower embellishments or floral prints. Again the emphasis is placed on the things that are beautiful and feminine. Flowers are beautiful, delicate, and associated with womanhood so wearing them is heightening the female's own sense of femininity.

Richard Avedon was one of the premier photographers of the period and continued to have cultural relevancy for decades. Among his subjects were fashion models like Dovima, film stars like Marilyn Monroe, and musical stars like the Beatles. Every icon of the mid-century was documented by Avedon's camera at some point. The model at the center of the picture, Dovima, was arguably the most famous fashion model of the 1950s. Dovima and Avedon had a special relationship and he photographed her more than any other subject (Swartz 1991). He said that she was the last of the aristocratic type of beauties, a type of woman who rarely existed anymore. She was one of the most highly-paid because of the way that she could elevate the level of elegance and artistic beauty of the clothes she wore. Dovima was nothing like the natural models that would be indicative of the following decades like swinging sixties favorite Twiggy. She was highly made up, highly stylized, and had to work very hard to provide the kind of image she was hired to show the world.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Essay on Dovima With Elephants Richard Avedon's Assignment

The elephant on the left of the picture has his trunk up and his front foot up as well and the one on the right seems to be trying that as well. She is between them and her arm is lifted as if she is imitating the creature, but her actions are more delicate and refined. It is making a clear comparison between the beauty and the beast. At the same time she is portrayed as deserving of being placed on a pedestal, the unnatural position also underscores the submissive position women were supposed to take during this time. Women were to be controlled by men. In this case Dovima is being controlled by Richard Avedon, Christian Dior, and Yves St. Laurent. She is a doll to show Avedon's photographic skill and Dior and St. Laurent's design ability. She does not have an identity outside of what these men give her. This is indicative of the era, something Dior recognized. Dior himself said, "When I went to analyze this social trend I was responsible for, I realized that, above all, it stood for a return to the art of pleasing…The birth of the House of Dior profited from that wave of optimism and the return to an ideal of civilized happiness" (Pochna 1996, page140). This is a very interesting statement in that pleasing others is equated to being happy. So, for a woman to achieve post-war happiness, she ought to please others, including wearing Dior fashions which are more romantic, more womanly, and more beautiful.

In a very real way, Dovima was the perfect example of what a 1950s woman was supposed to be. The 1950s were a unique time in the culture of the western world. Following World War II, the United States, England, and much of Europe adopted this highly conservative identity, particularly in the U.S. Women were clothed and expected to perform within the home doing cooking and cleaning. This was the time of the perfect homemaker. Women who represented popular culture had to be both extremely beautiful and possibly sensual, but also exhibit these wholesome ideas. By contrasting this extremely sophisticated, beautiful woman with these clumsy natural creatures, the difference between the modern woman and the rest of the world is clearer.

Works Cited

Edwards, Owen. "Fashion Faux Paw: Richard Avedon's Photograph of a Beauty and the Beasts

is Marred, He Believed by One Failing." Smithsonian Magazine, October 2005.

Pochna, Marie France. Christian Dior: the Man who Made the World Look New. Arcade, 1996.

Swartz, Mimi. "The Couture Cinderella." Vanity… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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