Distinguished Shoreham photographer Marilyn Stafford celebrated in new exhibition

Distinguished Shoreham-based photographer Marilyn Stafford, aged nearly 95, is the subject of a major new exhibition.
Marilyn StaffordMarilyn Stafford
Marilyn Stafford

Marilyn Stafford – A Fashion Retrospective From Haute Couture to Ready-to-Wear… From 50s Paris to 70s Swinging London will run from October 3-December 31 at Dimbola Museum and Galleries on the Isle of Wight.

Spokeswoman Elissa Blizzard said: “Dimbola is thrilled to announce this stunning exhibition by pioneering female photographer Marilyn Stafford. Prior to World War Two, French women of means had their clothes made to measure in the grand Maisons de Couture. Middle class women would have these models copied from the fashion magazines by their own dressmakers.

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“In the 1950s enterprising French manufacturers found young designers and began making affordable and very stylish ready-to-wear. Most fashion photographs at that time were taken in a studio or in elegant venues.”

But as Marilyn recalls: “I preferred to take the models onto my beloved streets of Paris.”

She would even let the street kids pose with the models. Moving to England in the mid-1960s she found swinging London and its young designers, all of which are included in this exhibition. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio USA in 1925, Marilyn’s early dreams were for a theatrical career. Her photographic career was accidentally launched in 1948 in New York where she had gone to find work on the Broadway stage. She was asked to photograph Albert Einstein by friends who were making a film about him. Marilyn shot to international acclaim after her work documenting Algerian refugees in Tunisia famously made the front page of The Observer in 1958, bringing their plight to world attention.

She said: “Photographs are visible to us everywhere we go. Some of mine were taken as newspaper or magazine assignments; some of my pictures are street scenes captured in a passing moment; some were taken for projects never completed. All of them are dear old friends who I would like you to meet.”

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Stafford’s work spans 1948-1980 and covers a variety of subjects including refugees, tribal peoples, international fashion and prominent historical figures. Her portraits include Edith Piaf and Italian writers Alberto Moravia, Carlo Levi.