Norman Parkinson: Portraits In Fashion

10 June - 24 September 2006

This summer the Lady Lever Art Gallery hosts a striking exhibition by the eminent photographer Norman Parkinson (1913-90). The display brings together twenty five stunning pictures from the National Portrait Gallery’s collection.

Norman Parkinson was a dazzling fashion and portrait photographer who worked on the British edition of Harper's Bazaar in the 1930s before joining Vogue in the 1940s. Later he worked for Queen, and the American magazine Town & Country. His work was famous for its liveliness, spontaneity and humour, and for his creative use of outdoor locations.

Parkinson photographed many of the greatest icons of the twentieth century, as well as some of the world's most beautiful women. Those featured in the exhibition include Audrey Hepburn and famous fashion models such as Jerry Hall, Barbara Goalen and Parkinson’s wife, Wenda Rogerson.

Gallery of photographs

All images © courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive. Click on the thumbnail to see the full image.

Norman Parkinson was born in 1913. He first entered the industry as a photographer’s apprentice. At the age of 21 he opened his own portrait studio in London near to the Ritz.

Standing at 6 feet 5 inches tall, Parkinson was unable to keep a low profile behind the lens. Instead he created 'Parks', the moustachioed, elegant fashion photographer and eccentric personality. His innovative style differed from the prosaic approach to fashion photography of the time. Instead he used his idiosyncratic persona to charm his sitters and conveyed a glamorous, alluring public image.

In a career that spanned seven decades, ‘Parks’ dazzled the world with his inventiveness as a fashion photographer. His style evolved to capture the essence of the many eras he documented, from the austerity of the war years through to the opulent 1980s with its exotic locations and glossy shoots. Parkison’s long association with Vogue, his photographs of the Royal Family and numerous assignments for Queen and Town & Country brought him worldwide recognition.

Exhibition organised by the National Portrait Gallery. National Portrait Gallery 1856 - 2006

Images © courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive.

In 1981, the National Portrait Gallery staged Norman Parkinson’s first major retrospective. This record-breaking show, attracting over 86,000 visitors was the first time portrait and fashion photographs were shown at the gallery and celebrated fifty years of his work. By the end of his life Norman Parkinson was a household name, the recipient of a CBE, a photographer to the Royal Family, and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.

'Norman Parkinson: Portraits in Fashion' shows how Parkinson’s legacy continues to inform contemporary fashion photography. The exhibition will appeal to those with an interest in bold and imaginative photographs or simply charmed by images of high fashion and glamour.