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Beaton in Vogue

Josephine Ross


A veritable feast of articles, drawings and photographs by Beaton dating from the 1920s to the 1970s


Cecil Beaton was a man of dazzling charm and style and his talents were many. At the age of twenty he sent Vogue an out-of-focus snap of an undergraduate play, and for the next half-century and more he kept readers of the magazines up to date with all the various activities of his long and creative career. In his twenties he recorded London and New York society in needle-sharp words and drawings. Condé Nast, the owner of Vogue, compelled him to abandon his pocket Kodak, and his resulting photographic work earned him a place among the great chroniclers of fashion. Witty and inventive, he designed settings for plays and films – and for himself – and as a writer he was an eloquent champion of stylish living. His accounts of travel made the most luscious places seem tantalizingly vivid and close.

The turning point in his career was the challenge of working as an official photographer in the Second World War. He travelled the world, no longer in luxury but in uniform, and the photographs, drawings and writings that revealed the face of war, from bombed London to China and the North African Desert, testified to a new maturity of vision.

Cecil Beaton remained triumphantly active to the end of his long life. He became a superb portrait photographer, of royal and other famous faces and forms, and designed the costumes for My Fair Lady (both on stage and on film) and for Gigi. Almost incredibly, when a stroke paralysed his right hand he turned himself into a left-handed draughtsman; and he carried out two marathon photo assignments for French Vogue only a few months before he died.

Josephine Ross selects and introduces articles, drawings and photographs by Beaton dating from the 1920s to the 1970s. Beaton loved Vogue, and his contributions testify to the wit, imagination and professionalism that the man and the magazine always had in common.

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'Surveys the life and work of an extraordinary fashion auteur … Beaton’s romantic vision captured starlets and socialites alike. The sheer breadth of his talent impresses as he sketches, shoots and quips his way into the pages of Vogue'

'A sumptuous compilation of the characterful photographs, sparkling essays and elegant illustrations produced by Cecil Beaton for the style bible'

'A total delight'
Daily Express

'Lavish … a vital addition to any photography book collection'
Amateur Photographer

'Picture Book of the Week'
New Statesman

'Delightful line drawings of people and places, each one demonstrating Beaton’s acerbic eye and cartoon-like facility of draughtsmanship … a refreshing and vivacious publication'
The Spectator

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 28.4 x 24.0 cm

Extent: 240 pp

Illustrations: 293

Publication date: 20 February 2012

ISBN: 9780500290248

Contents List

• 1. How One Lives: The London Season (1928); After London, New York (1931); Palm Beachistory (1931); Debutantes – English and American (1932); Remembrance of Things Proust (1972) • 2. Beaton at War: The Scars of London (1941); Modern Times (1944); RAF Impressions (1941); American Eagles (1942); Raids to End War (1943); Official Photographer (1942); Journey to the Orient (1944); At Viceroy’s House (1944); Jungle Front (1944); Prevailing China (1944) • 3. People: Paris Sketches (1945); Beaton on Bérard (1960); Golden Picasso (1965); Eye to Eye: David Hockney (1969); A Woman of Quality: Lady Diana Cooper (1969) • 4. A Windsor Album: Mrs Simpson (1937); Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (1937); Royal Albums (1953); Notes in the Abbey (1953) • 5. Fashion: Modern Chic (1928); London Tea Gowns (1931); Putting on Local Colour (1932); Is It the Clothes or the Woman? (1946); The Art of Artifice (1959); The Changing Face of the Fashion Model (1967) • 6. Stage and Screen: The New Screen Stars (1930); Ballets Russes (1936); The Lily Elsie Legend (1943); Décor Difficulties (1946); Audrey Hepburn (1954); Unconquerable Mae West (1970) • 7. The Joys of Travel: Goodbye, New York (1929); A Food Dilettante on Holiday (1932); North Africa (1934); Haiti (1935); Jaipur (1944); Sicily (1954); In Turkey (1965)

About the Author

Josephine Ross worked for Vogue for several years before leaving to become a fulltime writer. Her books include The Vogue Bedside Book and The Winter Queen.