Ormond Gigli was a very well-known fashion photographer in the 1960s. He always made great use of his surroundings, often picking them before choosing the fashions or the models. Here’s the story of his most famous work, called Girls in the Windows.
“In 1960, while a construction crew dismantled a row of brownstones right across from my own brownstone studio on East 58th Street, I was inspired to, somehow immortalize those buildings. I had the vision of 43 women in formal dress adorning the windows of the skeletal façade. We had to work quickly to secure City permissions, arrange for models which included celebrities, the demolition supervisor’s wife (third floor, third from left), my own wife (second floor, far right), and also secure the Rolls Royce to be parked on the sidewalk. Careful planning was a necessity as the photography had to be accomplished during the workers’ lunch time! The day before the buildings were razed, the 43 women appeared in their finest attire, went into the buildings, climbed the old stairs, and took their places in the windows. I was set up on my fire escape across the street, directing the scene, with bullhorn in hand. Of course I was concerned for the models’ safety, as some were daring enough to pose out on the crumbling sills. The photograph came off as planned. What had seemed to some as too dangerous or difficult to accomplish, became my fantasy fulfilled, and my most memorable self – assigned photograph. It has been an international award winner ever since.”– Ormond Gigli, 1960
I love that he looked out his window, got the idea, and went for it! I’m sure that every time this story is recounted, insurance actuaries everywhere shed a tear. Of course, this amazing story could never happen today. It’s a shame that we’ve gained red tape and lost spontaneity.
You can see more of Ormond Gigli’s work on the website dedicated to his work.