Fashion Icon Spotlighted at MEP

© Center for Creative Photography, Arizona Board of Regents / Adagp, Paris 2023. - Estate of Fernand Fonssagrives.

At Do It, we draw daily inspiration from fashion icons who have shaped the art of good taste. And it's safe to say that Swedish model Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn is no exception. The Maison Européenne de la Photographie pays tribute to her with "Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn: Fashion Icon", a magnificent exhibition bringing together over 150 unpublished shots of the first supermodel in history. Iconic!



Memorable Collaborations

Organized chronologically, the exhibition opens with photographs taken by Fernand Fonssagrives, her first husband, featuring intimate and joyful shots at the beach or in the mountains. Both professional dancers, Lisa became his model by chance after gifting him a camera to alleviate his boredom following an injury that abruptly ended his career. Lisa's vocation emerges as she makes her mischievous smile her signature for photos, far from the usual coldness of models.

It's thanks to her first collaboration with Horst P. Horst and Vogue in 1936, whose prints are showcased at the MEP, that the shoots continue for the Swede. Perched atop the Eiffel Tower in a Lucien Lelong dress for Erwin Blumenfeld or behind the wheel of a speeding car captured by Lillian Bassman, nothing stops her! She collaborates with the greatest photographers like Richard Avedon, simultaneously reinforcing her supermodel legend. The exhibition concludes beautifully with the works of Irving Penn, her second husband whom she met in 1947 and became his muse.


A Star Model... and More

Although photo sessions for Elle, Vogue, Glamour, or Harper's Bazaar follow one another, dressing her in Elsa Schiaparelli, Madeleine Vionnet, Jean Patou, Balenciaga, Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn's ambitions extend beyond modeling. She delved into photography in 1941, working for some women's magazines in the United States before venturing into fashion design, even becoming a sought-after stylist. Simultaneously, she studied painting and sculpture, dedicating herself fully to it in the early 1960s. Constantly seeking renewal, Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn becomes a multifaceted artist not confined to her historic career as a supermodel alone. Oh yes! We forgot to mention she was also an amateur pilot, a passion she portrays in an impressive print by Fernand Fonssagrives. A true fashion icon with a myriad of lives whose destiny remains ever-inspiring.

Until May 26th. Open Wednesday to Friday from 11 am to 8 pm and weekends from 10 am to 8 pm. Starting from €9. Information and online reservations available.

© MEP - Quentin Chevrier.

© George Hoyningen-Huene, Estate Archives.

Also discover the power of transparencies at the Yves Saint Laurent museum and the best (free!) exhibitions in Parisian galleries.

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