Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Enduring Legacy of Scavullo

The iconic cover imagery created by Francesco Scavullo during his thirty year tenure as photographer for American Cosmopolitan holds particular significance for me. Growing up as a child, I can recall looking at my mother's old issues of Cosmopolitan and being transfixed by the heavenly creatures that peered seductively from the covers. Scavullo together with his long-time collaborator and companion Sean M. Byrnes, exercised complete autonomy over the creation of the Cosmopolitan cover from the model selection down to the outlandish outfits, glamorous hairstyles and make-up. Former Cosmopolitan Editor Helen Gurley Brown recollects in an interview with the New York Times, "He had this particular look - she was to be a really sensuous, beautiful, sexy young woman. The clothing was to be of a particular type. The hair and make-up were decided. They were authentically glamourous women who made that Cosmopolitan look, and we were faithful to that year after year."

My fascination with the Cosmo girl was such that I would scour second-hand book stores in my home town of Sydney in search of back issues. This in fact was how I met one of my dearest and closest friends Gino, who happened to be working at the time in one such store and whose eyes lit up at the mere mention of Scavullo's Cosmo Girl. In the nineteen years since, I have amassed a collection of over 150 Scavullo lensed Cosmopolitan covers dating from Naomi Sims' ground-breaking August 1973 cover to circa 1996. The allure of those Cosmopolitan covers for me have stood the test of time as has the friendship that was born out of a shared passion for Scavullo's unique artistic vision. 

Christie Brinkley
Cosmopolitan - May 1978
Photographer - Francesco Scavullo

Kelly Emberg
Cosmopolitan - May 1983
Photographer - Francesco Scavullo

Renee Simonsen
Cosmopolitan - September 1985
Photographer - Francesco Scavullo

Elle MacPherson
Cosmopolitan - September 1984
Photographer - Francesco Scavullo

Naomi Sims
Cosmopolitan - August 1973
Photographer - Francesco Scavullo

Kim Alexis
Cosmopolitan - May 1987
Photographer - Francesco Scavullo

Gia Carangi
Cosmopolitan - July 1979
Photographer - Francesco Scavullo

Khadija Adams
Cosmopolitan - October 1985
Photographer - Francesco Scavullo

Esme Marshall
Cosmopolitan - April 1980
Photographer - Francesco Scavullo

Beverly Johnson
Cosmopolitan - February 1976
Photographer - Francesco Scavullo

Carol Alt
Cosmopolitan - September 1980
Photographer - Francesco Scavullo

Paulina Porizkova
Cosmopolitan - May 1984
Photographer - Francesco Scavullo

Christie Brinkley
Cosmopolitan - September 1983
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier

4 comments:

  1. This is a lovely anthology. Thank you.

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  2. Thank you for your kind comment Linda and for all of your support. Warm regards, Neill.

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  3. that september christy brinkley was actually photo'd by demarchelier, the only one in all the 30 some odd years of scavullo cosmo covers; where did you find the kim alexis one? it originally was usa cover feb 87, the one you found is amazing, it is may 87 same photo, is that malaysia? cool find:)

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    1. Thanks Paul for the heads up on the Christie cover (I had no idea that it was a Demarchelier)! As far as I can recall the Kim Alexis one is from American Cosmo May 87. Most of the 200 or so Cosmo covers I have in my possession, I purchased from Gallaghers Collectibles in New York during the 90s. Don't forget to show your support for Inoubliable Model Army by clicking the Facebook LIKE Button ;-). Best wishes, N

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