WHEN ANJELICA MET AVEDON

US Vogue, October 1969

Anjelica Huston (1951-) is an American actress and model. She is best known as a muse to photographers such as Bob Richardson and Richard Avedon. As the daughter of the late filmmaker John Huston, it is perhaps little surprise she would later embark on an acting career.

Today on curate, we look at Anjelica Huston’s first American Vogue shoot with Richard Avedon, the first of many. It was 1969. 18-year-old Huston had moved from Ireland since her mother died from a car accident at the age of 39. It was in New York where she would meet Richard Avedon, a friend of her parents and Diana Vreeland. It is here that I leave you to Ms Anjelica herself to tell the story behind this 1969 shoot. It is an extract from an essay she wrote for Vogue in February 2001.

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“Well, shortly after I met Vreeland she proposed that we go on a trip to Ireland. So we took off: [Vogue fashion editor] Polly Mellen, Dick Avedon, [hairdresser] Ara Gallant, Harvey [Mattison], the guy in the photographs, and myself. I wouldn’t call Harvey a male model. Dick had shown me a group of young men, ideas for the other person in the photographs, and I bypassed James Taylor—which has been an eternal regret. They weren’t models, they were great-looking guys. Anyway, I thought Harvey was very cute, and I had a weakness for blonds in those days. So Harvey came on the shoot, and I was horrible to him. I remember teasing him all the time and making him go to get water lilies for me in the ice-cold bog water. I think I was just nasty back then. I had a bad attitude.

We were in the bogs of Connemara, and on the Burren, actually, which is known for being like the moon, and while we were there the astronauts landed on the moon for the very first time. It seemed so incongruous, so out of place, and I’ve resented it ever since—I’ve never liked the idea of men trampling on the moon.

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I grew up in Ireland from the age of two, and I left to go to school in London when I was about ten years old. My father’s house, St. Clerans, is in the west of Ireland, so that was also a large part of my going there with Dick. It was my territory.

Going back to Ireland was very difficult, particularly after my mother’s death. To be there and yet to be outside my life, to be on that shoot, was very surreal. Fashion at its best is a wonderful, adventurous medium, and at its worst it’s superficial and false. And so I was caught somewhere in the middle of all of that.  But that was my first fashion shoot in American Vogue. The pictures were very innovative because they presaged the whole sort of Gypsy look. To be at a sitting with Polly and Dick was to be at something quite extraordinary.”

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After the shoot editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland wrote a memo to those involved.

“I think it looks too divinely beautiful. All the romance of the countryside is within the pictures. I think the clothes were so beautifully selected, so beautifully used. I think from every point of view everyone involved in this gets the warmest and highest congratulations. I am absolutely thrilled with it.”

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Diana Vreeland memo

Diana Vreeland memo

For more information on Anjelica Huston’s life, her memoir A Story Lately Told was released in 2013.  

All photos by Richard Avedon, US Vogue, October 15 1969. Hair by Ara Gallan.

 

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