Dress to Drive: Photography by John Rawlings
John Rawlings was a Condé Nast Publications fashion photographer from the 1930s through the 1960s. He became one of the most prolific and important fashion photographers of the twentieth century, and with his passing in 1970, he left a vast body of work, with more than 200 Vogue and Glamour magazine covers to his credit.
At a time when opulence and theatrical lighting were commonplace in fashion photography, John Rawlings led the change in direction of Vogue fashion photography. He began showing fashion in a direct, informational way that combined beauty with clarity. John Rawlings became the first photographer to systematically associate fashion with Hollywood celebrities.
Nast and Vogue‘s editor-in-chief, Edna Woolman Chase, decided that magazine photography needed a change in direction and decided that a talented but unknown twenty-four-year-old man from Ohio was going to be the one to do it.
In two memos sent by Chase, one to her staff in 1937 and another to the photographers in 1938, she demanded more information and less art in Vogue pictures: “Concentrate completely on showing the dress, light it for this purpose and if that can’t be done with art then art be damned. Show the dress. This is an order straight from the boss’s mouth and will you please have it typed and hung in the studio”.
Among the vast array of Rawlings’ work, he took many photographs of women with cars, which we are happy to feature today on Petrolicious.