Fashion’s forgotten models: dogs in Vogue

‘The next best thing to having the world at your feet is to have a dog at your heels’, British VOGUE declared in 1930. 

Dogs have always been an integral part of VOGUE, posing alongside some of the world’s most stylish cultural icons. Injecting personality and a certain cheekiness into the photographs, these fashionable pooches are a testament to the enduring role of dogs in our lives. 

VOGUE JULY 1956, Laurence De Guay

An image of a dog first appeared on the front cover of VOGUE in 1922, in the form of an illustration by Helen Dryden – one of the highest-paid female artists in America. The illustrator incorporated an elegant greyhound into her autumn scene, pathing the way for many pooch appearances.

Taking Dryden’s lead, Spanish fashion illustrator and painter Eduardo Benito depicted a tall, prancing young woman playing with her dog wearing wide-leg trousers and a chic, off-the-shoulder, crimson shawl. The athletic-looking greyhound waits for the ball to be thrown, its elongated body mirroring its owner’s equally long limbs. 

During the 1950s, Eugene Vernier brought a journalistic eye to fashion photography. In 1956, he paired models with different dog breeds that complimented spring fashions. Here, two stylish young women wearing tweed suits pose alongside a long-haired Afghan Hound.

In another shot, Vernier captured a young woman wearing a shell-shaped cap with sleek hair with a Dalmatian. Captured in black and white, the polka dot dog is the perfect match for the model’s classic herringbone suit.

Though the Australian photographer Laurence Le Guay is better known for his war photography and his international expeditions to New Guinea, he was also a leading Sydney fashion photographer throughout the 50s and 60s.

For VOGUE’s July 1956 issue, he positioned an alert Bullmastiff on a sandy beach with a model wearing a conical Asian rice hat, her light, tasselled skirt cleverly contrasting the darker silhouette of her canine companion.

In 1963 Jean Shrimpton, the first model to epitomise the progressive fashion of the 1960s, was photographed by British photographer Cecil Beaton. ‘One of the most pleasing signs of acceptance is that I can take my dog around the studio with me’, Shrimpton once claimed in an interview. 

Inspired, Beaton photographed Shrimpton wearing an oversized woollen jumper, resting her arm against camera equipment with Bertie, her miniature Yorkshire terrier taking pride of place. A new informality in fashion photography had officially begun.

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