Dec 5, 2006
Lisa Fonssagrives IS the First Supermodel
Time Magazine Cover, Sept 19, 1949
Several weeks ago, a reader gently reminded me that Suzi Parker was NOT the world's first supermodel. She wondered if I'd heard about Lisa Fonssagrives.
Yes I had. How could I have forgotten her, I asked myself? As these photographs attest, she presented an arresting image. Reigning as queen of the modeling world during the 30's, 40's, and 50's, this striking Swedish beauty with the 18" waist thought of herself as a "just a good clothes hanger." (Can you imagine Janice Dickinson thinking this?)
Born in 1911, Lisa arrived in Paris in the 30's to become a ballet dancer, but her 5 ft. 7 made her too tall for ballet. She became a model by accident. A photographer asked her to pose for him and the results were history. Lisa wound up posing for a record number of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar covers.
The Supermodels Website includes this description: "Once, she appeared 103 times in a single issue of a magazine, scarcely looking 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."
Below are some links that lead to more information about her.
Art is Life
The Lisa Fonssagrives Glove Gallery