Vintage & Fashion news, pretty vintage items and of course wee bit personal life style ramblings of an eleven year on line vintage clothing seller, avid fashion, antique and vintage lover

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mark Shaw A Legend in Vintage Fashion Photography

Mark Shaw ~ 1955

It would be so simple to just buy vintage at an estate, put it on a mannequin, take pictures then sell it. For me, like most sellers, there's tons of research involved. To present it honestly and date it accurately we research.

The most wonderful way to date an item is to "luck out" and find an ad with your item in it. Not common, but it does happen. Ten years ago, that is exactly what happened to me while researching Vanity Fair lingerie. I discovered the most amazing ads.

Immediately sidetracked, I started researching the photographer for the ads. I was in love. Mark Shaw, without a doubt is one of the best photographers ever. A true legend. Even more so when you consider this work was done in the 1950s, when imagination was the source with a 35 millimeter camera and no options such as air brushing or photobucket. His work is all original and advanced beyond his time.

Mr. Shaw did a 10 year series of ads for Vanity Fair Lingerie in the 1950's. They were totally progressive, imaginative and stunningly beautiful. Adding to the mystery, rarely does Mr. Shaw show the model's face, focusing on the lingerie instead, presenting it in such glamour. Mr. Shaw won numerous awards for his Vanity Fair Ads.

Immediately I began collecting them. I started framing the ads on the walls in my office. They are just absolutely beautiful and to be admired. My obsession with Mr. Shaw's work then extended to his books as well. To my knowledge there are five books with his work featured, including next on my list ~ "Charmed by Audrey: Life on the Set of Sabrina" with his photographs of Audrey Hepburn.

From the Vanity Fair ads, I progressed to designer clothing ads. Just as beautiful. just as imaginative. So ahead of his time, Mark Shaw used exotic backgrounds and beautiful locations.

Designers from top - Balenciaga, Chanel, Givenchy, Jacques Faith

Celebrities loved but most of all trusted him. He photographed many Hollywood stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Brigitte Bardot, Princess Grace Kelly, and became the photographer for Audrey Hepburn on the set of the movie Sabrina. He brought out the beauty in all of his subjects, be it a fabulous couture gown, Audrey sitting on a sofa or Bridgitte sitting on stone stairs:

Mark Brigitte Bardot 1958

Mr. Shaw also took pictures of other famous people, such as Danny Kaye, Cary Grant, Pope Paul VI, Yves St. Laurent and Chanel. Coco Chanel 1957

Life Magazine featured Mark Shaw's work on 27 covers, as well as fashion work for Harper's Bazaar, Esquire and Mademoiselle magazines.

Also famous as a photographer for President Kennedy, becoming friends with the family and taking many casual pictures of the President, Jackie Kennedy and of course life with their children. In fact, Mark Shaw's work can be found in the book The John F. Kennedys: A Family Album.

Jackie Kennedy by Mark Shaw 1961

Sadly, Mark.Shaw passed away much too young at age 47 in 1969. His talent, creativity and imagination would be limitless with today's technology.

Fortunately for us, Mr. Shaw's son David and his wife have not only archived all Mr. Shaw's work, much of it unpublished and never seen before in a The Mark Shaw Photographic Archive in Vermont, and is currently the only solar and wind-powered photo archive in the world.

The archive is completely green in their business practices, and donates a portion of its profits to fund Earth Sweet Home, a non-profit educational program teaching children and adults about sustainable living.

As proud as David is of his father's work, I am sure Mark would be just as proud of his son for not only offering Mark's work to the public, but his devotion to the environment.

my personal collection of prints, ads and books


  1. Vintage looks are very in nowadays. Some add the present accessories to give it a more edgy look. Thanks for the post.

  2. Love the Vanity Fair adds! They look like antique sculptures!

  3. @FancyDress, I agree completely, and love it! just a new belt or necklace and vintage is right back in style!

    @Miss Meadows ~ aren't they beautiful.. and they do look like sculptures, so perfect!

    Thank you both for your comments, and reading my blog! xo

  4. Thank you so much Sharon, it was so easy with such lovely work as a subject. :)