AUDACES, CHUT, EVOCATIONS, SENSATIONS, PARIS~ZAZOU, VOLUPTE, SHOCKING, REGAL, GIRLS DE PARIS, MIRAGE DE PARIS, NATURAMA, PARIS BEAUTES, COULISSES, 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.
This is the second part devoted to these magazines; part one can be found here.
After years of buying these magazines it became clear: what seemed like an endless fountain of different titles and publishers, boiled down to a few who actually survived for more than 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 reaching.
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 from 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 a cultural phenomena. It's seductive models with a theatrical flair, at work with very talented photographers and publishers, willing to push the edge and in some instances, create a high quality magazine.
Click her for French digest size girlies in my eBay store.
NB: I've taken this previously very long part two and added part three, here.
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 were very important (thank 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 high fashion world, think John Galiano and Jean-Paul Gautier and a continued obsession with hair, hats, legs and footwear.