Irving Penn: Small Trades

Irving Penn Small Trades

It’s no big secret, as you will come to realise, that About your Dress is a huge fan of fashion photography, and believes one of the greats is a man who said that “Photographing a cake can be art”, Irving Penn. He was most famous for his work in Vogue; however his talent extended far past making beautiful people look even more beautiful, as shown in a series of images he shot of working class men and woman entitled Small Trades.

The project began in 1950, when Penn was in Paris, shooting collections for American Vogue. Between the shoots he would photograph tradespeople in their work clothes, carrying the tools of their profession. Over the next year he continued the project in New York and London, showcasing the beauty of the average person, and the photos soon became primary examples of his trademark style, being published in Vogue in 1951.

The enchanting photos have been compiled into a coffee-table book, entitled Irving Penn: Small Trades, which will be published in the UK on 29th November 2009. The book also contains essays about the collection, as well as an interview with Edmonde Charles-Roux, the chief editor of French Vogue from 1952 to 1966, who aided Penn on the Paris assignment.

Irving 1

Irving 2

Irving 3


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