Thursday, 29 December 2011

Ronald Falloon: The Man Who Shot The 60s

Twiggy © Ron Falloon


When you think 1960s fashion photographers, you think Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, David Bailey, Norman Parkinson, Barry Lategan (credited with discovering Twiggy - his early portraits are exhibited in the V&A), and Terence Donovan. You probably don't think Ronald Falloon, a name not so synonymous with the great style lensmen of that era; but that's no surprise when his collection of images featuring famous models, muses and icons of the swinging 60s lay gathering dust in an attic for years. 
A holiday in Cannes was the springboard for Falloon's interest in photography, after taking snapshots of guests on the beach at the Carlton Hotel, while nearby, Hollywood icon Grace Kelly filmed 1955 classic, To Catch a Thief. His success with these early pictures convinced John French (50s and 60s fashion and portrait photographer), to take him on as an apprentice (following in the footsteps of his contemporaries Bailey and Donovan). 
Falloon was then exposed to legends from music, fashion, theatre and the big screen - capturing names such as The Rolling Stones, Marlene Dietrich, Noel Coward and YSL on camera. 
His success eventually led to him opening his own studio in Drury Lane from 1962 to 1968 - a time when designers such as Ossie Clark, Mary Quant and Barbara Hulanicki's fashion emporium Biba, were pioneering trends which still impact the modern fashion scene, both on the high-street and catwalk.

Jean Shrimpton in Susan Small © Ron Falloon

As Jean 'The Shrimp' Shrimpton and Lesley 'Twiggy' Hornby became the faces of the decade, Falloon was the man behind some of their most noted portraits, as well as shooting Patti Boyd (who married Beatle George Harrison), Penelope Tree, Paulene Stone, and the woman who put the the 'Super' into model - Veruschka - still going strong today at 72 years-old, appearing in Giles' SS11 London Fashion Week show.
Falloon's archive also includes images of Dior, and a spread for Fabulous Magazine in 1964 featuring a young Marianne Faithful, her mother and designer Norman Hartnell – dressmaker to The Queen, Princess Margaret and The Duchess of Windsor among others. 

Models in Courrèges © Ron Falloon

In 2009, the unassuming photographer said, "I haven't kept all my pictures because I just thought oh well, that's gone, it's in the past. The fashions were fantastic. It was such an exciting era for British style, and I'm glad I lived through it."

Luckily some of his most evocative images, capturing the true spirit and aesthetic of the 60s period, were 
discovered and resurrected for exhibitions in London, including at the Nolia Gallery in 2007 and for Liberty's in 2010. Now a collection of his work has also launched on vintageseekers.com this month, featuring signed and numbered photographs of Shrimpton and Twiggy, as well as models wearing designs by Courrèges, Nina Ricci, Mary Quant and Biba. To see the full collection head HERE.

While researching Falloon, I also came across a behind-the-scenes video entitled "Essence of the 1960s", which was filmed prior to a private view of his work and Q&A at the Hastings Art Forum in 2009. Watch it HERE.


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