Photo Friday: Horst P. Horst

November 20th, 2008 by Jorge


Odalisque reclining, 1943

Salutations! Jorge here, filling in for Ross-ome for this week’s photo Friday. DISCLAIMER: I am not a writer, I am a photographer. Here we go!

Some of you may know me and some of you may know of me. What most of you may not know, is that under my boyish good looks and charming wit, is a die-hard traditionalist, and an old-fashioned softy. I have always had a strong connection to the past and a real love for history. That’s why this week’s post will focus on one of my heroes, coincidentally on the anniversary of his death, Horst P. Horst.


Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann was a German American photographer best known for his photographs of women and fashion taken while working for Vogue magazine. At the age of 26, Horst had become instantly famous. As a regular contributor to Vogue, his work was quickly noticed and recognized by top critiques in the United States. In 1937, he moved to New York City, and while residing there met Coco Chanel, whom Horst called “the queen of the whole thing”. He would photograph her fashions for three decades. What a gangsta!

In 1943, after he joined the Army and received his United States citizenship, officially changing his name to Horst P. Horst. I sometimes wonder what was going through his mind when he chose to change his name to a double name. Horst would go on to photograph President Truman and every First Lady in the post-war period by invitation of the White House.

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First Lady Nixon

One of the great iconic photos of the Twentieth-Century is The Mainbocher Corset. Many of you may remember this shot being copied in Madonna‘s Vogue music video. Crazy coincidence: I will be at her last stop of the American tour in Miami; Row 3, seat 6. Holla!!

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Mainbocher Corset, 1939

His method typically entailed careful preparation for the shoot, with the lighting and studio props. His instructions to models are remembered as being brief and to the point. For example, “You’re a bear; now you’re a tree!” His published work uses lighting to pick out the subject; he frequently used four spotlights, often one of them pointing down from the ceiling. Only rarely do his photos include shadows falling on the background of the set. Horst rarely, if ever, used filters. Enjoy, yall:

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Lucien Lelong, Bijoux Boucheron, 1937

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Mainbocher dress, 1936

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Lisa as V.O.G.U.E., 1940

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Chanel Beauty, 1987

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Yves Saint Laurent in a Garden, 1986

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