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Louise Dahl-Wolfe was one of the most celebrated photographers of the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Her work had enormous impact on great photographers such as Horst, Avedon, and Penn. Working in the heyday of Harper's Bazaar, she pioneered the use of natural lighting in fashion photography and shooting on location and outdoors. Born in 1895 in San Francisco, Dahl-Wolfe first started taking pictures in 1923. She did her first fashion work for Harper's Bazaar in 1936 and had a long career as a fashion photographer for that publication. Louise Dahl-Wolfe died in 1989. Her work has been exhibited at the Grey Gallery at New York University, the Women's Museum in Washington and currently at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
Famously employed by Harper’s Bazaar, Louise Dahl-Wolfe’s images portrayed glamor and leisure. In the 1940’s she shot Lauren Bacall (back then, she was still a teen model) for her famous war-time cover of the magazine. Serious covers aside, Dahl-Wolfe had a way of capturing the clothing as well as the model. The lines and seams of garments were accentuated and exaggerated by the way her women posed, and colors popped on lavish scenery. Showcasing high fashion and couture never meant haughty looks or drama, but rather the subtle suggestion of happiness and enjoyment. Dahl-Wolfe captured a lifestyle – the carefree, affluent, content woman – that provided escapism for readers during World War II. Her images in magazines showed more than just what was in style; she also showed a fantasy and created a story which could turn an object as ordinary as a bathing cap into a covetable item.