Georges Dambier: Lady Like

The First Major US Retrospective of the French Fashion Photographer

Revolutionary in his embrace of sunny exteriors when sterile studios were de rigueur, French fashion photographer Georges Dambier rose to acclaim in the 50s, producing iconic images of many of his era's most famous muses, including Brigitte Bardot, Capucine and sisters Dorian Leigh and Suzy Parker. Today we feature some of the highlights of his 40-plus-years behind the camera, collected in the new exhibition, Who's That Girl?, on view at New York’s Bonni Benrubi gallery. Dambier's career was launched following a chance encounter with Rita Hayworth at Le Jimmy’s nightclub in post-WWII Paris. After snapping the Hollywood siren, he traded the exclusive images for a post at Pierre Lazareff's newspaper France Dimanche. "I said, I don't want money—I want to become a staff photographer," he recalls. These days, the 86-year-old presides over Le Chaufourg, his elegant family house overlooking the River Isle in Périgord, from which he shared some choice thoughts with us.

When you started, which designers did you find particularly inspiring?
Initially I worked quite a bit with an old friend called Alwin Camble, but quite soon I started to shoot a lot of clothes by Jacques Fath. We became close friends and worked a lot together.

What are your fondest fashion shoot stories?
There are quite a few about Dorian Leigh, but none that are suitable to share!

What was your favorite location to work in?
Paris––it was my town. My friends were there so it was comfortable and easy. I loved going to Morocco, Italy and Spain too.

Is there anyone you regret never having photographed?
Audrey Hepburn. I had the opportunity once when she was in Paris, but I was away shooting at the time and missed out. It still makes me sad.

Which modern photographers do you admire?
They have very different styles, but Tim Walker and Ellen Von Unwerth.

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