Fashion History: Norman Parkinson's Glamour Photographs on Exhibition in Mumbai

Ranjit Rodricks , 28 Apr 2012
Norman Parkinson's winter sunshine wardrobe, in India
Norman Parkinson's winter sunshine wardrobe, in India

Those of you who love vintage fashion photography are in for a treat! From today (April 28th 2012) to March 5th 2012, the ICIA House Art Gallery at Kala Ghoda in Mumbai is exhibiting a series of photographs by the veteran and iconic photographer, Norman Parkinson.

Called Pink Is The Navy Blue of India (after Diana Vreeland’s famous quote), the exhibition shows some of his best fashion work shot in India – from the streets of Aurangabad to the Red Fort in Delhi.

Model Barbara Mullen at the Red Fort, Delhi
Model Barbara Mullen at the Red Fort, Delhi

Says Elizabeth Smith, Co-manager of the Norman Parkinson Archive, “Norman Parkinson’s trip to India was an incredible experience for him and for the readers of Vogue. After the austerity of the war and the focus on Europe, Britain was eager to embrace the larger world. Parkinson was part of the wave of photographers and journalists caught up in this spirit of exploration. When British Vogue suggested that he do a major photo shoot in India, Parkinson welcomed it. He instinctively knew that his readers wanted to see not only the fashion but also the country. In the 1950s, flights were still expensive and infrequent, so for many people their window to the world was through magazines and newspapers.”

Manifold umbrellas in Aurungabad market - Anne Gunning wearing a camisole-sheath in white pique
Manifold umbrellas in Aurungabad market – Anne Gunning wearing a camisole-sheath in white pique

Elizabeth Smith adds, “However, Parkinson went to India with a different eye. His plan was to take Western fashion and combine it with Indian style. And it worked, the clothes blended beautifully with the surroundings. It was an ideal marriage- the dress, the coat, the outfit, contrasted, yet complemented by, the richness of the Indian architecture and landscape. In November 1956 when British Vogue hit the newsstands, the fashion world was stunned by Parkinson’s contemporary and fresh look at India. Parkinson had travelled throughout India from the south of Mahabalipuram to Kashmir, and he captured the mood, the ambience and above all the colour!”

The Pillars of Quwwat-Ul-Islam Mosque at dusk - Barbara Mullen wearing a gold lame Ball gown
The Pillars of Quwwat-Ul-Islam Mosque at dusk – Barbara Mullen wearing a gold lame Ball gown
Norman Parkinson
Norman Parkinson

Venue: ICIA House, 22/26, Ground Floor, K Dubash Marg, Kala Ghoda, Mumbai – 400 023, Ph: 022 22048138 / 39

Time: 11:00 am to 7:00 pm (except Sunday)

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