Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cecil Beaton's Sisters

"What is elegance? Soap and water."

As promised, more on Cecil Beaton. The above quote is widely used, but strikes me as an impatient answer to the sort of red carpet questions now popular on the back pages of bad magazines.

Beaton had a long and varied creative career. He took iconic photos of stars like Marilyn and Audrey (and this one). But I most adore dreamy portraits like these of his socialite flapper sisters at fancy dress parties. You must click to enlarge these for full effect.

This one is Cecil's sister Baba, with friends Wanda Ballie Hamilton and Lady Bridget Poulett, at The Living Posters Ball in 1930. They are posing as soapsuds. Doesn't that look like so much fun? Anyone want to be this with me for Halloween?

Here is an earlier one of muse Baba, in 1925's "Symphony in Silver". Use of various sandwich wrapping materials as backdrops seems to be a theme. First we had Saran, and now Reynold's. I just love the headgear in all of these.

This is the other Beaton sister, Nancy, dressed as a Shooting Star in 1929. Stunning in cellophane.

On a hunch, I just looked up the history of this material. Sure enough, it began to be mass produced and in 1924 by DuPont. Aluminum foil was used for candy and such as early as 1913 but took a little while to spread. Cecil apparently delighted in putting these spiffy new materials to exotic use.