Sunday, June 8, 2008

Other Photos, Other Parfums




It’s no longer enough to have the wit and wisdom to write a book; one must also look gorgeous when the book is published.

One of my book store adventures is to check out the author’s photo on the new releases to see what manner of serious styling has occurred. In recent years, Marion Ettlinger has been the photographer of choice, because she, with natural light, creates a winning combination of sexy and smart.

But long before Ettlinger’s black-and-white portraits arrived on the scene, one authorial photo caused a revolution.

Truman Capote’s early novel Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948), published years before Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958) and his literary journalism In Cold Blood (1965), depicted perhaps the first openly seductive book-jacket author’s photo.

The photo of a young, boyish Capote, lying on a couch with his hand strategically placed, his eyes both inviting and yearning, shocked the literary set. It was taken by Harold Halma in 1947 and Capote always insisted that the photo captured him unaware, though others believe that he deliberately posed.

That same year he posed for Penn, bundled up in a long tweed coat (image above).

And now, I think that those photos are influencing fashion. While paging through W magazine, I was struck by the most recent campaign for Prada’s men’s parfum. The photo strikes me as an homage to the two Capote images, with its use of a tweedy, open jacket, the boyish model, his pose, and the look in his eyes.

It’s appropriate, n’est pas? Capote wrote Tiffany into his novella; why shouldn’t Prada evoke an author to sell fragrance?

4 comments:

enc said...

I definitely see what you mean. What a sharp eye you have. Even the tonal range and gritty quality of the photos are similar.

miss cavendish said...

Who would work now? Perhaps Joan Didion for Chanel No. 5?

Times of Glory said...

When I saw the ad for the first time, I just felt the picture looks really like an old photo! Thank you so much for pointing out! Billiant observation! Even the facial expressions in the pictures are just soooooooo similar! How great xxxxxxxxx

miss cavendish said...

It's funny--the pictures aren't an *exact* match, but I think there's an undeniable connection among them . . .