The 1940s Women’s Fashion Photography by Louise Dahl-Wolfe

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Born in San Francisco, Louise Dahl-Wolfe (1895-1989) worked as a staff photographer for Harper’s Bazaar from 1936 through 1958. She introduced a witty, relaxed, and natural aspect to fashion photography and, in the process, helped “define the post-war look of American women.”

Dahl-Wolfe also made memorable portrait photographs of leading figures from politics and the arts, “discovered” a teenage Lauren Bacall, and was a pioneer in the technique of color photography.

Dahl-Wolfe’s work was shown in important touring exhibitions, and she had several retrospectives. In 1989 Dahl-Wolfe received an honorary doctorate from Moore College of Art in Philadelphia, the first women’s art college in the United States; her work is often cited as a significant influence on later photographers, notably Richard Avedon.

The 1940s women’s fashion photography by Louise Dahl-Wolfe 

“Louise Dahl-Wolfe was the definition of elegance and beauty. She led the way out of the European tradition into the supremacy of American photography.” – Richard Avedon.

“Her work was inventive and new. The things she did with her models and with color were so fresh. I always admired her: in fact I was quite jealous of her!” – Horst P. Horst.

Here is a stunning photo collection from her work that defined women’s fashion in the 1940s.

 Liz Gibbons in green satin evening coat by Charles James, 1940

Liz Gibbons is wearing a hat from Bergdorf Goodman, October 1940

 Bobby Munroe in a one-shoulder dress by Hattie Carnegie, jewelry by Marvella in Havana, Cuba, February 1941

 Model in a Nettie Rosenstein suit with brooch by Tiffany worn at the waist, 1941

Mrs. John C. Wilson is wearing dinner/theater suit by Mainbocher, December 1941

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