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Happy Birthday Sir Norman Parkinson

23-02-2024   


  On Sunday 21st April the Google logo was transformed with a sketch of the celebrated photographer, camera hanging around his neck, framing up a shot. Elsewhere the photographer was celebrated with a BBC ‘Arena’ programme examining his glamorous life and extraordinarily long career, that spanned from the 1930’s to the 1980’s, Parkinson’s ability to adapt with the times and re-invent his style remained at the core of his success.

 

His timeless elegant style and eccentric charm won over the many models that he worked with from the likes of Celia Hammond, Jerry Hall, Carmen Dell’Orefice, Grace Coddington, his wife and model Wenda Rogerson, the list goes on. His quirky quintessentially British style gave his work a distinctive aesthetic. Parkinson (birth name Ronald William Parkinson Smith) was cited as the photographer that revolutionised fashion imagery taking models out on location and capturing spontaneous fleeting moments against scenic backdrops.

 Image: Norman Parkinson – Mouvements de Femmes exhibition at The Octagon Bath

A selection of his work is currently on show at The Octagon gallery in Bath until the 12th May. Curated by fashion designer Roland Mouret the exhibition opened in line with the annual ‘Bath in Fashion’ event and displays a mix of Parkinson’s iconic images alongside some of his unseen work. Parkinson was no stranger to the Georgian architecture of Bath, he shot a Vogue spread using Bath as his backdrop in 1948 and it’s these images that open the exhibition.

Original Norman Parkinson image shoot on location in Bath 

In celebration of Parkinson’s 100th Birthday the organisers of Bath in Fashion re-created one of his legendary shots in the very same Bath location. The re-constructed look using a 1940’s suit, hat and cane from ‘Vintage to Vogue’ made a close match to the original bar a few architectural amendments. The photographer Chris Burfoot also shot a second look in colour with the model in contemporary clothing (a dress & jacket from Grace & Mabel) revealing the location in all its glory as it is today.

Iconic Norman Parkinson Vogue re-shoot for Bath in Fashion credits:  Photographer Chris Burfoot ARPS Photographer, direction Nicky Hancock, hair & make-up Katherine Spreadbury and Claire Bender of Littlelab, styling JoJo Iles at FashionPR, model Suzanne Marshall. 

As Roland Mouret so rightly commented: “Norman Parkinson liberated women and allowed them to move.” On the images Mouret selected from Parkinson’s vast archive he said; “The images were chosen were not because they were fashionable, instead more for how the women moved within them. Norman would approach his models with such a sense of humour that they reacted and would not remain static in front of his lens. Movement, in Parkinson’s photography, is strictly linked to the evolution and liberation of women in the twentieth century.”

 

Mouvements de Femmes: Norman Parkinson by Roland Mouret – An exhibition curated by Roland Mouret especially for Bath in Fashion 2013 is on at The Octagon, Milsom Place, Bath until 12th May 2013. Link: Bath in Fashion

 

BBC4 Arena aka Norman Parkinson available on iPlayer until 28th April.

Credits for vintage look:

All clothes and accessories provided by Vintage to Vogue Bath. Classic 1940’s wool boucle suit with velvet collar. Fur Tippet 1940. Shoes original 1940’s stacked brogues.

Original Norman Parkinson images copyright of the Norman Parkinson Archive.

 

By JoJo Iles

 




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