frances mclaughlin gill

Mary Jane Russell (left) and Leonie Vernet (right) with books and magazines for Vogue, January 1954. Photograph by Frances McLaughlin-Gill.

The two models are both in dresses of silk surah in shades of pink. Vernet’s is printed with organic shapes, with the skirt back-swung. Russell’s has impressionistic pink flowers, the ones on the bodice embroidered with beads.

Fiona Campbell-Walter with sculpture wearing Balenciaga for Paris Vogue, 1952. Photograph by Frances McLaughlin-Gill.

Campbell-Walter is wearing Balenciaga’s bare-topped evening dress of pale pink satin veiled with Chantilly lace. From the moment Cristóbal Balenciaga opened his Paris house, his clothes struck a note of simplicity that at times had a regal presence, at others a graphic grace. He reshaped women’s silhouette in the 1950s, so that clothes we think of as typical of that decade are mostly dilutions of his work.