Born in San Francisco, Louise Dahl-Wolfe (1895-1989) worked as a staff photographer for Harper’s Bazaar from 1936 through 1958. She introduced a witty, relaxed, and natural aspect to fashion photography and, in the process, helped “define the post-war look of American women.”
Dahl-Wolfe also made memorable portrait photographs of leading figures from politics and the arts, “discovered” a teenage Lauren Bacall, and was a pioneer in the technique of color photography.
Dahl-Wolfe’s work was shown in important touring exhibitions, and she had several retrospectives. In 1989 Dahl-Wolfe received an honorary doctorate from Moore College of Art in Philadelphia, the first women’s art college in the United States; her work is often cited as a significant influence on later photographers, notably Richard Avedon.
“Louise Dahl-Wolfe was the definition of elegance and beauty. She led the way out of the European tradition into the supremacy of American photography.” – Richard Avedon.
“Her work was inventive and new. The things she did with her models and with color were so fresh. I always admired her: in fact I was quite jealous of her!” – Horst P. Horst.
Here is a stunning photo collection from her work that defined women’s fashion in the 1940s.
Photos by Louise Dahl-Wolfe (1895-1989)