Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Ford Models in the 40s

More Forties fashion. This time, however, it's the real thing rather than my or a designer's interpretation of it. Retronaut featured a selection of photographs by Nina Leen, taken inside an advertising agency in 1948. A bit more snooping and it turns out the agency is the famous Ford models (whose outrageously successful roster of models has included Dorian Leigh, Jean Patchett and Twiggy, as well as many more contemporary stars), and these images date from just two years after the agency was first founded by Jerry and Eileen Ford.

The images were reproduced in Life Magazine under the title 'Family-Style Model Agency'. Thanks to a scanned-in copy of the article, it's possible to see the story behind the pictures. The article reveals that at this time, the agency had 34 models and 8 telephones. Each model was paid $20 an hour with the Fords getting 10%.

This is Eileen Ford giving one of the models a foot bath - I can only guess that shoe in the foreground of the picture is pretty high and tight.

This is the model Joan Pedersen looking after a Ford baby as Eileen looks on from an overflowing desk (more bare feet!).

The models were given free sandwiches and cokes.

The feature emphasises that the agency does "high fashion" but definitely no "cheesecake pictures or deodorant ads". It finishes with this column showing the type of adverts banned by Ford. Hilariously, Life also holds all these images (without the eye-strips), so presumably the Ford models must have put their scruples aside to pose for these photographs.

A deodorant ad: considered not worthy of the girls' "special talents"

The bathtub pose: "vetoed" by the Fords.

The mixture of glamour and beauty amidst trying to maintain propriety and the mundanity of trying to run a business and family makes for a fascinating set of images and a story which I think would make for a great TV drama. Surely there is a network somewhere, looking for a rival to Mad Men, who would want to commission it?

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1 comment:

  1. Great idea. I'd watch it if it were done well.


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