Photographer: Mort Schreiber
As a young woman, I was fortunate to meet Veruschka three times. Every time it was like being in the presence of someone very special.
The first time was in Rome in 1969. She was legendary having appeared in countless spreads in Vogue and every top fashion magazine, as well as having appeared as Herself in Blow Up, the hot film of 1966. She was living with the great Italian photographer Franco Rubartelli. I was doing a little modeling in Rome and called at the studio for an audition and who answered the door but Veruschka herself! She was wearing delicate white linen slacks and a diaphanous shirt. She stood tall and tan and barefoot, her hair, straight and swinging below her shoulders. She had no makeup on. I was very young, dressed in hip-hugging bell bottoms and a fitted silk shirt with little boots. I was awed at the unexpected sight of this legendary model. Opening the door wide to let me in, she said hello and I said my name and agency. Very matter of factly she showed me to the photographer who looked at my book. Rubartelli was very handsome and managed a harmless Italian flirtation, which both flattered me and disappointed me. I was more in awe of Veruschka, moving around the studio than I was of him. On the walls were large pictures of Veruschka on the exotic voyages they took together for Vogue, Made possible by their fairy godmother, the great Diana Vreeland. The studio was model/photographer heaven.
The second encounter was at a hip party in Paris with top photographers and models. Veruschka was there. It was around 73/74. She was wearing 6 inch platform shoes and towered above everybody.
The last times were in Munich where I had an apartment. She was with Holgar Toltz then and had adopted her very odd, eccentric hippie look which she keeps to this day. She is down to earth, very Prussian, a dreamer yet remarkably pragmatic. I had the privilege of meeting Veruschka’s mother and sister. They were both very beautiful but not with the extreme body proportions that Veruschka has, yet with a similar beauty of face. The dowager countess was around 60. She lived in a villa outside Munich, something very big and old and elegant. There were many rooms and a finished basement where Countess von Lehndorf housed a rock band that she was mentoring. I can’t remember the name but they were good.
There were also a couple of artists in residence. One was my friend, Maria von Arendt. She had modeled awhile under the name of Bambi in the early 60s in Paris. Now she was an incredible painter who was being nurtured by the von Lehndorff’s. She was a very good friend of Veruschka’s sister. I spent a lot of time in Germany and learned about Veruschka in the local press. She is a superstar there, even more so than in the rest of the world.
She had something much more than her exotic beauty. It was her utter coolness, her detached way of looking at the body she had been given and using it as her instrument, or her canvas. Behind the beauty is a keen intelligence and a dry wit. She attracts men who love her and want to help her in her creativity.
Even if she had not caught the eye of Diana Vreeland and given that chance of a lifetime, to be an international Top Model/Supermodel, her spirit would have risen as an artist.
I am glad there are these pictures that reveal the fantastical romance of the Sixties where Veruschka was a brilliant light
HBO to Air Timothy Greenfield Saunders’ much anticipated Documentary
Featuring Carmen Dell’Orefice
Kay Thompson, as fashion magazine editor Maggie Prescott, was the star of the solo number. Watch for popular models blonde Sunny Harnett and brunette Dovima as other specialty dancers:
The character of fashion photographer Dick Avery, played by Fred Astaire, was loosely based on the career of Richard Avedon. The visual consultant on the film, Richard Avedon also created the famous photo of Audrey Hepburn’s intentionally overexposed face. The photo was seen in the film and became the cover of the original soundtrack album. The image quickly became iconic. When Funny Face was re-released in 1964, it was the focal point of the new publicity poster.
During the filming of Funny Face in the spring of 1956, David Seymour photographed Richard Avedon and his boyhood idol Fred Astaire. This rare photo can be found in the August 1956 Bazaar magazine:
Suzy Parker was the inspiration for the reluctant model played by Audrey Hepburn in the 1957 film Funny Face (Paramount Pictures). She also appeared as a specialty dancer in the Think Pink! musical number.
Susan Camp & Linda Morand
Suzy Parker 1958
Suzy Parker (October 28, 1932 – May 3, 2003) was an American model and actress active from 1947 into the early 1960s. Her modeling career reached its zenith during the 1950s when she appeared on the cover of dozens of magazines, advertisements, and in movie and television roles.
She appeared in several Revlon advertisements, but she also appeared in advertisements for many other cosmetic companies as well, as no model had an exclusive make-up contract until Lauren Hutton (for Revlon and Revlon’s Ultima) and Karen Graham (Estée Lauder) signed them in the early 1970s. She was the first model to earn $100,000 per year and the only fashion model to have a Beatles song named after her, even if an unreleased one.
Three of the Parker sisters were very tall, standing between 5’10” and 6’1″. Dorian was the sole exception, standing 5’5″. In 1944, Dorian was writing advertising copy when a co-worker encouraged Dorian to go to the Conover Modeling Agency to try modeling.
One of Dorian’s first advertisements was for Revlon. Charles Revson (who later wanted to marry her) hired her for “Fatal Apple,” one of Revlon’s first all-color, nationwide ads. Dorian was one of the top models in the world, arguably referred to as the “world’s first supermodel” (along with Lisa Fonssagrives). When Parker was about age 15, Dorian telephoned The Ford Modeling Agency and told Eileen and Jerry Ford that she would sign on with them if they also took her younger sister, sight unseen. Anxious to represent Dorian, they agreed. Expecting to meet a similarly petite, extremely thin, flawless, pale-faced, electric blue-eyed, raven-haired younger version of Dorian, they were shocked to meet Suzy for the first time at a restaurant. At the meeting, the Fords said, “Oh, my God!” Parker was already 5’10”, big-boned, and had carrot red hair, pale-green eyes, and freckles. She later became more famous than Dorian.
Parker’s photo appeared in Life magazine at age 15. That same year, one of her first magazine advertisements was for DeRosa Jewelry. Although she still lived with her parents in Florida, she stayed in New York City with Dorian when she had modeling assignments there. Dorian introduced Suzy to her fashion-photographer friends, Irving Penn, Horst P. Horst, John Rawlings, and a young Richard Avedon. Suzy became Avedon’s muse. At age 61, she said, “The only joy I ever got out of modeling was working with Dick Avedon
Parker became the so-called signature face of the Coco Chanel brand. Chanel herself became a close confidante, giving Parker advice on men and money as well as creating numerous Chanel outfits for her. She was the first model to earn $200 per hour and $100,000 per year. Vogue declared her one of the faces of the confident, post-war American woman. She worked also non-stop for Vogue, Revlon, Hertz, Westinghouse, Max Factor, Bliss, DuPont, Simplicity, Smirnoff, and Ronson shavers, to name a few. She also was on the covers of about 70 magazines around the world, including Vogue, Elle, Life, Look, Redbook, Paris Match and McCall’s.
Avedon suggested Parker for the movie Funny Face (1957). Fred Astaire’s role was based on Avedon, whose photos appeared in the movie. Suzy appeared in the movie for only two minutes and she looked breathtakingly beautiful on the big screen.
After marrying her third husband, Bradford Dillman, in 1963, she mostly retired from modeling and acting to live a quiet life in Montecito, California, with her family.
She passed away in 2003 at age 70 surrounded by her loving family. One of her children, a friend of mine has just published a book dedicated to Suzy Parker called REFLECTIONS THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Nobel