Christian Dior Fall 2008 Couture: Lisa Fonssagrives
"The whole idea came from having a cup of tea two years ago in New York with Irving Penn. We chatted a long time and he told me of the role of Lisa Fonssagrives in his art and work. When I realized her importance, as a figure, a beauty and a sculptor in her own right, I went from there," said a trim Galliano backstage in his parlor. (Yahoo News)
The Day of a Model. What makes a face and a figure worth $40 an hour? The answer to that lies in the way Lisa Fonssagrives works.
Last week, one of Lisa's typical days began at 7 a.m., when she arose at her converted gardener's cottage in Muttontown Long Island. She breakfasted in bed, listened to her eight-year-old daughter Mia read her lessons. She drove 35 miles to Manhattan in her red-upholstered Studebaker convertible. On the road, she was something of a hazard. An amateur plane pilot, she considers any speed under 70 m.p.h. dull. She fretted at whistling truck drivers and ogling motorists/'There will be an accident for sure," she said, "and those silly men will get us all tickets."
Her first Manhattan stop was her office, where she picked up" gloves, shoes and a list of bookings which her secretary had prepared for her. Then she went to Seventh Avenue for a fitting of a dress she would model later in the week. From Seventh (where a gown is a garment, a batch of dresses a line and a model a dearie), she taxied two blocks east to Fifth (where a garment is a creation, a line a collection and a dearie a darling). After a session with the hairdresser (Lisa's hair, which used to be black and then red, is now ash blonde), she rushed to a sitting with old friend Horst at the Vogue studios. Two hours later, she raced on (without stopping for lunch) to another sitting with Photographer Henry Gravneek. She retouched her make-up in the taxi. Says she: "It makes for the most interesting variations depending on which way the driver takes the bumps." As she entered the studio, Designer Taylor was on hand to introduce Lisa to the black cocktail dress she was to model. While the designer pulled and pinned the dress into place, she patted Lisa Fonssagrives' modest bosom and said: "Darling, you'll simply have to fill that out. You know what I want—the Maxime look."
"Well," said Lisa with resignation, "it's a leettle difficult when one has never been chez Maxime, but I think the feeling will come." The feeling came with the addition of some falsies.* There were crises over shoes (wrong ankle straps) and gloves (too shiny) and the necklace (too large). But presently the massed lights went on, all shadows withering in the merciless crossplay. (Many models are less than brilliant conversationalists. Says Lisa, an excellent one: "Sometimes I think all these hot lights numb the brain.")
Then Photographer Gravneek quietly started shooting, only now & then asking Lisa to turn a bit this way or that. Thirty minutes and 16 camera clicks later, it was all over.
The Good Clothes Hanger. Working with a less accomplished model, the photographer might spend hours trying to prod and push her into the proper pose. But not with Lisa. With a dancer's discipline and grace, she responds instantly to the photographer's every direction, almost before it is spoken. Her body (bust and hips 34 in.) is so supple that she can pull in her normally 23-inch waist to 18 inches. She has the gift of mimicry every good model needs, and a keen fashion sense. Once, she appeared 103 times in a single issue of a magazine, scarcely looked like the same girl in two pictures. Says she: "The photographer says, 'Look sexy,' and I look sexy. He says, 'Look like a kitten,' and I look like a kitten. It is always the dress, it is never, never the girl." As one satisfied customer put it: "A lot of models will not move a muscle for a cheap dress. Lisa makes a $10 cotton dress look like a Schiaparelli." Mockingly, Lisa Fonssagrives puts it another way: "I'm just a good clothes hanger." (Time Magazine)