The Horse’s Mouth
London is a fabulous city, full of life and prospects! It has the National Gallery, National Museum, National Portrait Gallery and even the National Theatre, which is where I ended up on a cold Sunday afternoon. “Lifework: Norman Parkinson’s Century of Style” showcase is in the National Theatre’s Lyttelton Exhibition Space running from March 1- May 12 2013. Parkinson was known as the father of modern fashion and the collection is a display of his life’s work beginning just after WWII and ending before his death in 1990.
It was in this gallery that I found myself staring at his work and thinking, “So Vogue!” Then wondered about the meaning behind the word ‘Vogue.’ Parkinson’s early pictures captured what Vogue of the 1950’s and 60’s where really about. In one single photograph he was able to encapsulate the lifestyle of a vogue woman: someone every woman longed to be. His photos were enriched with clever juxtapositions usually taken these exotic unbeknown places. Parkinson worked with the models and the clothing to express modern fashion. He was the pioneer of the fashion photography that has formed what ‘Vogue’ really stood for.
As I turned round a corner of the gallery I came face to face with the horse’s mouth. Literally, I was staring at an image of the Duchess of Seville, enticing her horse, with an apple in her mouth. I was a bit scared and thrown off after looking at all these beautiful women in beautiful gowns. Looking at it now, it’s a very amusing photograph. It captures this unique moment as well as sums up Norman Parkinson’s photography. Only Parkinson could stripe Elton John of his fame and make him look like a sophisticated fashionmonger. Or take a photo of Audrey Hepburn where her emotions are on the surface, and she looks like a beautiful miserable creature. It is only Parkinson who could do it, and the rest will have to follow in his footsteps.