AUDACES, VAMP, EVOCATIONS, MOI ET TOI, PARIS~ZAZOU, PSSSHT!, EXCITANTES, REGAL, GIRLS DE PARIS, ENTRES NOUS, MLLE DE PARIS, PARIS JE T'AIME, COUCOU, PARIS TABOU: all titles of 1950's French, digest sized girlie magazines jumping out at me from dealer's stands at the Old Paper Show in Paris, circa late 1980s. I'm at a loss. I don't know what's between the striking cover designs. Ultimately these publications did not disappoint.
(above) Composite of various magazine covers; circa early to late 1950s
After years of buying these magazines it became clear that what seemed like an endless fountain of different titles and publishers, boiled down to just a few that actually survived for more a handful of issues. Many were "one-shots", never to be seen again after the premiere issue. Nonetheless, these small format, digest size (approx. 5" x 8") magazines touched a seductive and sometimes sensual spot that American magazines of the period were years away from discovering.
It's a cliche (and one of the few about the French [read: Parisians] that is actually true) that there is a certain "something" about the French, that "je ne sais quoi", that comes through even on the pages of their girlie magazines. The models seem more engaged, yet cool and a bit detached. The photographers seem to be on a mission to get closer to their objective - a gorgeous French model - why not! Is it because they are French? A cliched answer would be yes, but it's much more than culture. It's seductive models with a theatrical flair, working with very talented photographers and publishers willing to push the edge and in some instances, create a high quality magazine.
It's this process of creating the photographs that diverges from what we see in the United States at the same time. There is an emphasis on serial photography in some magazines that I refer to as the "strip-series": start dressed, finish undressed, but not too undressed. Getting from here to there, like the road traveled, is part of the fun. It also appears that legs, stockings, garter belts and high heels are very important (thanks goodness), an interest that can be called "fetishism" that appeared very early in Paris in the 1920s (see the Jambes post) and has never diminished. In today's fashion, think John Galiano and Jean-Paul Gautier and a continued obsession with hair, hats, legs and footwear.
The illustrations that follow are from files that go back more than ten years. Unfortunately, like all things marvelous in the antiquarian world of collectibles, material once considered "common", is now, along with everything else, impossible to find in public marketplaces (i.e. paper shows, antique fairs, flea markets, etc). Here are some of my favorite covers and hopefully some of your favorites or a few that you are seeing for the first time. I will revisit this genre in a later post as there's more file sharing needed on this topic.
Album No.1 is a bind-up of ten issues into a single hardcover volume
filled with issues of Regal. The cover wrapper above
+ two, two page spreads below.
Secrets Magazine. Photos en Relief.
"For the first time photographs in 3-D"
Click to see Parisian magazines in my eBay store