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Now Showing: Shooting Stars by Cornel Lucas



We already know that designers have turned away from the likes of busy prints and boho overkill. Autumn is so much more refined, darling, with fashions that look more, well, chic Hollywood than glitzy Bollywood. Early indications show that this mood is set to continue into spring 2006 with sophisticated, grown-up minimalist designs.


{mosimage}Diane Von Furstenberg cited the likes of Grace Kelly, Maria Callas and late 1960’s movie stars swanning around Rome as her inspiration for Spring/Summer 06. The photographs of Norman Parkinson were another point of reference for Roland Mouret, while Vera Wang took the ‘fifties heiress travelling in style’ route.


Francisco Costa at Calvin Klein couldn’t agree more. “Chic, simple, unfussy but very well-groomed,” he said to Vogue of the new season. For a taste of that polished sophisticated style head over to the National Portrait gallery and drink in the glamour of the Cornel Lucas, Shooting Stars exhibition.


{mosimage}Celebrating the 85th Birthday of the British photographer, the gallery displays fifty of Lucas’s finest works.  His iconic and striking photographs feature the likes of: Joan Collins, Lauren Bacall, Gregory Peck, Brigitte Bardot and many others.


During World War Two he worked at the RAF Photographic School at Farnborough before going to work at Denham Studios in 1945. Swapping war for glamour he worked as a portraitist for British Film Studios throughout the late 40s and 50s, and then continued behind the lens as a freelance advertising, portrait and fashion photographer.


{mosimage}Marlene Dietrich was one of the first Hollywood stars he was asked to photograph in the late 1940s. Typical of the era Lucas used dramatic lighting and shot with a large format 8 x 10” plate camera. The results were stunning, Dietrich looked every inch the glamorous movie star, dressed in a belted suit, fur wrap and beret, cigarette in hand she hooks the viewer with a smouldering look to camera.


The large format camera gave Lucas the creative freedom to retouch the photographs. Back then everything was controlled by the studio, including the actors’ publicity shots. It was a time of mystery and fantasy, the stars appeared poised and perfect, a far cry from the in-the-raw reality snaps of today. Lucas fondly remembers Dietrich calling him: ‘the plastic surgeon of the day’ – with his unsurpassed technical skill, strong lighting and retouching ability Lucas could no doubt make his sitter quite beautiful.


{mosimage}Other highlights include a young Joan Collins in a strapless evening gown, Diana Dors milking her own publicity in a mink bikini at the 1954 Venice film festival and Bridgett Bardot working her ‘sex kitten’ look. While Lucas mainly worked in black & white the exhibition does include a handful of colour images along with famous faces from more recent times.


Celebrating over forty years of icon making photography you may not have heard of Cornel Lucas but you’ll certainly recognize plenty of his photographs in this stunning exhibition.


Shooting Stars Camera Portraits by Cornel Lucas {mosimage}


Where: Balcony Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London WC2.




When: Until 22nd January 2006


Open Daily: 10am – 6pm


Late Opening: Thursdays/Fridays until 9pm


Free admission



By JoJo Iles

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