With a perfect figure and tons of attitude, Queens New York-born Dorothy Virginia Margaret Juba was exactly the right woman to represent the new post-war American ideal. In 1949, coming out of a New York City automat, Dovima was stopped on the sidewalk by a Vogue editor who recruited her on the spot. The next day, the young woman had her first modeling job for the magazine, a spread shot by famous fashion photographer Irving Penn. During the shoot, the new model kept her lips closed, the first appearance of the Mona Lisa-like smile that became her signature. But the reason for the mysterious expression was much more mundane than you might expect.
“I had this ugly front tooth that I broke when I was playing dress-up in my mother’s clothes.”
The name Dovima was one that the model came up with herself, a combination of her three given names, originally invented for an imaginary friend when she was bedridden with rheumatic fever as a child. Following her discovery, Dovima became a muse to photographer Richard Avedon, and the duo created some of the most iconic images of the mid-twentieth century. Though Dovima retired after only 10 years “I didn’t want to wait until the camera turned cruel,” Avedon remained a life-long fan of the model.
[Dovima is] “the most remarkable and unconventional beauty of her time.” -Richard Avedon