Started on the 11th April 2011 - Blogging from a 20 year old Fashion Student

Sunday, 1 September 2013



"David Bailey, makes love daily,
Brian Duffy, bald and scruffy"
- Joanna Lumley

One third of the trio of photographers who helped define the 60s as an iconically fashionable era. 

Born: 15th June 1933
Famous for: Photographing in a more youthful and urban way - breaking free from the "neat" styling of the 1950s. 
Style Characteristics: His style of photography included iconic portraiture, voyeuristic editorials and album sleeves (most notably for David Bowie's "Alladin Sane").

As a young art student living in London, Brian Duffy became less and less enthusiastic about his chosen pathway, fine art. He became transfixed on clothing, fashion was becoming more and more outrageous and exciting as the 1950s were coming to an end, as was the last of wartime rationing. 
   The most obvious "jump" from painting to fashion was to become a fashion illustrator, Duffy was employed by Harper's Bazaar. At his time there, however, he accidentally stumbled on another art form which would be the medium to drive him into a household name. These unsuspecting contact sheets from an editorial shoot caused Brian Duffy to become a fashion photographer. He later joked in an interview that taking photographs of clothes was the easier option; be that as it may, he became a master of his craft.

Duffy's photography catapulted models into stardom as he began capturing the change in British fashion that was happening in the 1960s. His most notable clients at this were Jane Birkin, Joanna Lumley and Grace Coddington. However, as he began to become more well-known internationally, he began to take portraits of icons such as Brigitte Bardot and Ursula Andress. Brian Duffy was proudly recording all of these fashions and muses, which are now so evocative of the 60s. 

The Photographic Trio
Fashion changed in the 60s, as we all know for obvious reasons - such as the end of rationing fabrics in the war; children from the "post war baby boom" were growing into teenagers and wanted to differentiate themselves from their parents etc - it had evolved into a more innovative business. Fashion (womenswear) transformed from being primarily glamourous, feminine, accentuating and demure to graphic, 

So you would have thought that a business that had become so fast-paced and innovative would evoke competition between all those in the same field. Not the case with the photographic trio! These photographers came to define the Swinging Sixties and managed to become well known as friends rather than opponents. They all came from similar working-class backgrounds and were known as the "terrible three", which definitely suggests mischief! 
   One of Duffy's favourite models, Joanna Lumley recited a poem in a recent interview, "David Bailey makes love daily, Brian Duffy, bald and scruffy" - emulating their notoriety as fashion photographers. The formality of the 50s was abandoned and the spirit of the 60s was captured on their film, Duffy's studio became the centre of swinging London and although the poem suggested David Bailey was the most promiscuous of the three, they all encouraged the well known bohemian motto of "free love".

Bailey became known as the womaniser, Donovan, the wit, however, Duffy was the enigma - hard to please, afraid of no one, with a seemingly underwhelming exterior. 

"If you're going to have a best friend, he may as well be a shit-head."
- Brian Duffy talks about his relationship with David Bailey

Although, by the 70s, David Bowie was already nearing the height of his fame, Brian Duffy's vision catapulted him into a new realm of success. As Duffy was a fashion photographer, he knew that Bowie needed an image that would shock and evoke intrigue. Fashion photography is basically advertising, advertising clothes, a lifestyle... So an album cover was pretty much the same thing, advertising Bowie, projecting his music, image, clothes and lifestyle to the world.

The pair were visionaries, and continued to work together to create three album covers, each of them as iconic as the last. 

In 1965 Duffy was asked to create the second annual Pirelli calendar, it was shot in Monaco and was filled with extremely sexual images of women - to be sent out to very select clients of Pirelli. 
   It featured nudes and glamour photographs of the elite models at the time. A position which, today, is reserved for controversial/celebrity photographers such as Terry Richardson, Karl Lagerfeld and Patrick Dermarchelier.

The calendars celebrate the female form, and the ways in which photography and fashion changes drastically over time, it is an excellent way of seeing how our perception of the perfect female body has adapted - androgyny in the 60s, voluptuousness of the 70s, to "heroin chic" of the 90s.

The ninth issue of the calendar, again shot by Duffy in 1973 was the result of a collaboration between him and British Pop Artist Allen Jones. This resulted in quite a lot of tension between the duo, as their chemistry wasn't as jovial as the dynamic relationship demonstrated by the terrible trio.
   Jones was an artist, not a photographer, so he expected Duffy to create the images from sketches he had done. And as I said previously, Duffy wasn't afraid to stand up for himself. He did eventually shoot versions of Jones' artwork, however, it wasn't as exact as the illustrator would have liked!

Brian Duffy carried on creating extremely successful pieces of work in all areas of his photography career (fashion, music, art and advertising); despite that, he decided to give up photography in a very final and abrupt way. Duffy burnt all his old negatives and film in 1979. 

Although a large portion of his images were lost, the pieces that remain showcase his talent impeccably - they are a definitive collection which capture the changes in British fashion and culture spanning twenty-five years.

Duffy resumed photography in 2009, recreating images of models and celebrities he had shot in the 60s and 70s, possibly as a way of reminiscing and trying to reconnect with his past. He died a year later.

Brian Duffy directed the music video 
for Spandau Ballet's "Gold" (I wanted to leave you all with something a bit more cheerful!)

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