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$50 list, but as low as $7 used at Amazon.com, Sports Illustrated Knockouts celebrates the art of the Sports Illustrated annual swimsuit issue. Beginning with the inaugural issue on January 24, 1964 (which featured model Babette March in a modest four-page spread), Knockouts goes on to document the evolution of the swimsuit issue through five decades of models who became celebrities, including Elle Macpherson, Cheryl Tiegs, Tyra Banks, and Kathy Ireland.
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TIME Magazine, September 19, 1949, p. 89:|
BUSINESS & FINANCE: ADVERTISING: Billion Dollar Baby (cover story)
...Lisa Fonssagrives, the highest paid, highest-praised high-fashion model in the business, considered by many of her colleagues the greatest fashion model of all time... asked a photographer friend what he thought of her. "Lisa," he said, "you are just an illusion."
...The Birth of the Model. In the past century, America underwent a great economic revolution. Americans made more things, and created more power to create still more things, than all past ages put together. The force chiefly charged with selling this breathless, and sometimes choking, proliferation of wealth is advertising.
At the Victorian era's high noon, most businessmen were warmed by the belief that the biggest rewards would automatically go, by economic law, to the producer of the best and cheapest product. It was mainly patent medicinemen who "took advertising" regularly. In 1888, there were only two men in New York who admitted to being professional writers of advertising; one of them resided in a Bowery hotel at 25¢ a night.
But the living standard of the ad-smiths improved rapidly. Other manufacturers, led by the makers of such simple consumer items as soap and baking powder, began to learn the lessons of trademarks, contact with the customer, expanding demand. In church one Sunday morning in 1879, Harley T. Procter, of Procter & Gamble, listened to a passage from the 45th psalm ("...all thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they made thee glad...") and coined the label "Ivory Soap." In 1890, Kodak launched one of the first relentlessly successful slogans: "You press the button--we do the rest." As other manufacturers ventured into advertising's strange new land, a blaze of new slogans followed: "The Beer that made Milwaukee Famous," "Pink Pills for Pale People," "Do You Wear Pants?" Slogans temporarily gave way to jingles, alarming forerunners of the singing commercial. Illlustrations (the manufacturer's face, Indians, prominent public figures, including President James Garfield) were used widely and sometimes wierdly to catch the customer's eye. Then destiny struck in Chicago; a photographer named Beatrice Tonneson used pictures of live girls in ads for the first time.
By the end of World War I, the rush to put women in ads was on. Coca-Cola used a black-haired beauty and a kitten. Holeproof Hosiery pioneered cheescake by lifting skirts and showing legs. Chesterfield made shocking history by subtly inciting women to smoke: a flapper cuddled up to her smoke-puffing boy friend and whispered: "Blow some my way."
...Reservior of Beauty. On its advertising message of optimism and progress, U.S. business this year is spending about $830 million in magazines and newspapers alone. At least one-third of all the advertisements bought by that staggering sum are using models. The proportion is nearer half in beer, cigarettes, cosmetics, the biggest users of models outside the fashion field. The figures add up to the simple conviction that there is nothing like a girl to catch the public's eye...
Some products, of course, would always be best advertised by models. This fact is borne out by such stories as the rise of Manhattan's Rheingold beer. It climbed from eighth to first place in Eastern beer sales largely by the use of pretty Miss Rheingolds, about half of them Irish "Colleens" duly elected each year by beer drinkers. (Miss Rheingold: pert Pat McElroy.) In its battle with Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola plans to count heavily on the new television Pepsi-Cola Girl, Louise Hyde, a 24-year-old Chattanooga belle of whom one adman said hopefully: "She just makes you feel thirsty."
To supply the huge demand made by the advertisers on America's vast reservoir of beauty, the highly specialized and erratic model business has materialized. An appendage of advertising, model agencies combine the ethics of theatrical agents with the esthetics of bathing beauty judges.
The Dawn of Disillusion. Modeling is concentrated in a few crowded Manhattan blocks between Fifth and Third Avenues, brightened by the parade of breathless, breath-taking young women dressed at fashion's extreme, hatboxes* in their hands, their feet fleet and flat-heeled, their pancaked faces as blank as a baby's conscience. There are about 1,000 professional photographic models active in New York (including 25 men, 25 children, and several dogs).
Thousands more knock on agency doors every year, driven by their own ambitions, by unscrupulous "modeling schools" which promise to turn them into cover girls in six easy lessons, or by relentless mothers. But disillusion awaits them.
Even if a girl is accepted by one of New York's 23 agencies (the best known: Powers, Conover, Thornton, Hartford, Ford), it is still a long road to a magazine cover or a four-color ad. Most agencies register far more models than they can possibly place, are little more than clearinghouses which keep the models' bookings, relay telephone messages, give them a place to sit around and wait between jobs, and collect 10% of their fees. It is usually the model who has to sell herself, tramping in & out of photographers' studios, showing her scapbook, trying to look like the advertisers' cryptic specificatons ("We need the soap and motherhood type"). By great good fortune she may land a movie contract.** But in most cases, she will achieve a glamorous life only in the ads she poses for.
Nor will her income be glamorous. Virtually all statistics in the modeling business are the figment of someone's creative imagination. Best estimates are that only about 50 or 60 of New York's 1,000 photographic models make between $10,000 and $20,000 a year. Among them are two outstanding up & coming young fashion models, a sensational, Lauren Bacallish redhead named Kathryn Cassidy, 23, and a sultry Maryland beauty named Jean Patchett, 22. About 75 models make between $8,000 and $10,000 at rates up to $25 an hour. The rest charge from $5 to $15 and hour and often do not find enough work to make ends meet. Lisa Fonssagrives is alone in charging $40 an hour.
...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 ever 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 [Elsa] Schiaparelli." Mockingly, Lisa Fonssagrives puts it another way: "I'm just a good clothes hanger."
Oriental Slave Dance. The life dedicated to the task of being a paragon of fashion for American women began 38 years ago, far from the U.S. and far from fashion. Lisa was born in the small Swedish town of Uddevalla (present pop. 22,675), the daughter of Dr. Samuel Bernstone, a dentist...
Although her parents sent her to cooking school ("with the idea I should be a good housewife"), Lisa had her heart and her nimble feet set on dancing. The town still remembers how, in a school play, she stole the show dancing in the role of an Oriental slave.
She went to Paris where she got engagements with minor ballet companies (her 5 ft. 7 made her too tall for the Paris Corps de Ballet). In 1935, she married her fellow dancer, handsome Fernand Fonssagrives. Both soon gave up dancing, he to be a photographer, she to be a model. She tripped into the profession by chance: a young photographer asked her to pose for him. The results were sensational. Vogue and Harper's Bazaar fought to get her services as a mannequin...
When war broke out, Lisa and Fernand came to the U.S... Today, Lisa works an average of 20 hours a week, half on advertising and half on magazine fashion illustrations, which pay less than advertising pictures ($12.50-$15) but carry prestige. Lisa averages about $500 a week, could easily make more if she worked a 40-hour week. Once, working hard, she made $1,800 in one week...
She prefers simple sport clothes, rarely wears evening gowns off the job, never goes to nightclubs. She keeps herself in fine modeling fettle--underweight (122 lbs.) and hard as a pole vaulter--by swimming, tennis, horseback riding, and gardening on her new four-acre farm...
Lisa is an expert with a camera, is thinking of combining modeling with a part-time job as a fashion photographer. She has been a top model for 14 years while younger and prettier ones have come & gone, but no one was yet ready to name her successor when and if she stops modeling...
* This traditional model's badge was accidentally originated some 15 years ago by Model Agent John Robert Powers when he gave one of his models a hatbox he happened to have in his office (having just bought a new hat) so that she could carry sundry necessaries with her on her rounds. Usual contents of a model's hatbox: make-up kit, extra dresses, shoes, stockings or slips.
** Some models who have: Barbara Stanwyck, Jennifer Jones, Gene Tierney, Lucille Ball, Joan Bennett, Joan Blondell, Lauren Bacall.
Suzy Parker married Bradford Dillman, her third husband, in 1963. They were still married when Suzy died in Montecito, California, on May 3, 2003, at the age of 69.
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