Legendary fashion photographer Richard Avedon, who pretty much photographed every woman ever to be called a supermodel, said of Suzy Parker, “She invented the form, and no one has surpassed her.” Christian Dior called her “the most beautiful woman in the world,” and Vogue magazine declared her the “face of the post-war American woman.” She was the first model to become as famous as your average movie star and for a time, she broke records with her earnings, becoming the first model to clear the astronomical (for the 1950s) sum of $100,000 a year.
Born Cecilia Ann Renee Parker in 1932, Suzy was introduced (by her older sister, who had an extensive and celebrated modeling career under the name Dorian Leigh) at 15 to model-maker supreme Eileen Ford and her career took off when Diana Vreeland first put her on the cover of Vogue. Like her contemporary Dovima, she embodied and defined the beauty ideal of the 1950s and the ideal model in perpetuity: tall, angular, long-necked and high-cheekboned with large eyes, dramatic coloring and uncanny ability to shift from cool elegance to feral sexiness with no more than the raise of an eyebrow or the tilt of her head. It seemed impossible to take a bad picture of her and there didn’t appear to be any style or garment she couldn’t make drop-dead chic. She was said to consider modeling an unserious career and characterized herself as “an animated clothes hanger,” – which may explain part of her wild success, since the fashion industry famously loves models who don’t overthink their work or overemphasize its importance. She moved on from modeling to try her hand at photography, acting, and even serving as a fashion magazine editor for a time, but in the manner of the day, she slammed the door shut on further career aspirations when she married and started having children. But the portfolio remains and it’s still a stunning collection of work.
[Photo Credit: Pinterest, Worthpoint.com, eBay]