Tuesday, 12 January 2010

'Pink is the navy blue of India'

'Pink is the navy blue of India' said Diana Vreeland, a former editor of American Vogue. Such reads one of the quotes in my book. However it was only today that I discovered what prompted Vreeland's famous words.

Tomorrow is my interview for the BA fashion journalism course at Epsom, so I am spending today preparing - which means reading fashion books, and lots of them (what a perfect day). At the moment it is 'Norman Parkinson, A very British Glamour'.

As I was reading this photograph made me stop.. wow. Norman Parkinson was a pioneer in exotic fashion shoots. Previously photographers had mainly worked from the studio, however Parkinson took his models out of the studio and on to the street, and in this case, to India. The photo is of model Anne Gunning in a Jaeger pink mohair coat outside the pink City Palace in Jaipur, a ceremonial elephant and men dressed in hot pink in the background. When Parkinson returned from India he showed this photograph to Diana Vreeland, who said "How clever of you, Mr Parkinson, also to know that pink is the navy blue of India."

Not only was Parkinson one of the first to photograph models in locations such as the City Palace and the beaches of the Bahamas (photoshoots abroad now an expected part of fashion magazines), but he was one of the first to use colour photography. Parkinson was drawn to colour, and after seeing the American issues of Vogue and Harper's in "glorious colour" whilst London still lay in the grey grip of rationing and old fashioned ways, he moved to New York to work for American Vogue, leaving its British counterpart.

Looking at the vivid shades in this fabulous photograph, it is difficult to imagine it simply in black and white. Colour breathes vivacious life to this image, and that colour is pink.


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