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Australian art


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Fashion illustration (Hollywood)

late 1950s


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



late 1950s

Media category


Materials used

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

Accession number


Artist information

Laurence Le Guay

Works in the collection


Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

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. 27

Nicola Teffer, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Fashion and celebrity', pg.169-187, Sydney, 2007, 182 (illus.).