Fashion illustration (Hollywood)
Laurence Le Guay
25 Dec 1916 - 02 Feb 1990
Fashion photography was a well-established field in Sydney by the late 1930s when Laurence Le Guay opened his first studio. After serving as a war photographer in the Royal Australian Air Force, Le Guay founded the independent magazine ‘Contemporary Photography’ in 1946. He re-published Cazneaux’s early photographs in the magazine, bringing them back to the attention of a new generation of photographers. Le Guay also worked as a photojournalist, taking on assignments for the Geographical Society to Antarctica, New Guinea and Central Australia. His images of the Australian Aborigines were published in 1980 in ‘Shadows in a landscape’. Between 1946 and 1972 Le Guay operated his fashion and commercial illustration studio in partnership with John Nisbett, and it became one of the leading studios in Australia.
‘Fashion illustration (Hollywood)’ places high fashion on the urban street, albeit an artificial one. In a witty retake of the ‘on the street’ style of New York fashion photography, Le Guay’s location is a Manhattan-style back-lot and his model a miscast extra. This example of Le Guay’s fashion work shows his love of drama and ability to work beyond the studio with ease and panache. In 1967 Le Guay noted: ‘Of all the qualities and talents that go into the making of a first rate photographer, I believe that taste is essential. Without taste, technical brilliance and imagination are useless. Without taste, energy and drive are wasted. Without taste, experience becomes a rut.’ 1
1. Aston K, ‘Laurence Le Guay: Good taste essentaial’, 'Australian photography', Mar p 21
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007
gelatin silver photograph, vintage
49.0 x 39.2 cm image/sheet
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of the artist 1980
Not on display
© Estate of Laurence Le Guay
Shown in 3 exhibitions
Three years on: acquisitions 1978-81, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Oct 1981–01 Dec 1981
Discipline and Beauty, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 28 Jun 1997–17 Aug 1997
Architects of Glamour + Masters of Style: excepts from a century of fashion photography, Queensland University of Technology Art Museum, Brisbane, 27 Jun 2003–07 Sep 2003
Referenced in 6 publications
Judy Annear, Discipline and Beauty - women, fashion, photography, Sydney, 1997, (illus.). no catalogue numbers
Robyn Daw (Curator), Architects of Glamour + Masters of Style: Excerpts from a Century of Fashion Photography, 2003. no catalogue numbers
Alexandra Joel, Parade: The story of fashion in Australia, 'Sophisticated Style', pg. 147-173, Pymble, 1998, 158 (illus.). This text was initially published by Collins in 1984, titled "Best dressed".
Gael Newton, Silver and Grey - Fifty Years of Australian Photography 1900-1950, 1980. plate no. 118
Gael Newtown, Three years on: a selection of acquisitions 1978-1981, 'Photography - Australian, European and American', pg. 67-84, Sydney, 1981, 78. cat.no. 27
Nicola Teffer, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Fashion and celebrity', pg.169-187, Sydney, 2007, 182 (illus.).