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Vogue: Past Imperfect: The Works of Deborah Turbeville

The invitation to the opening reception of fashion photographer Deborah Turbeville’s “Past Imperfect: Works on Paper from a Book” arrived on our desks like any other but, upon prying opening the envelope, there was something that caught our immediate attention. Within the intimate image—shot in New York in 1974— was a very familiar face. Seated among a mess of mannequins and cardboard shoe boxes and slipping a high heel onto her outstretched foot was own Candy Pratts Price. You see, Candy (who was the display director at Charles Jourdan on Fifth Avenue at the time) had commissioned Turbeville to shoot pictures to hang in one of her must-see window installations. “We shot those pictures in a factory on 39th Street," Pratts Price remembered over the phone a few hours before the opening. "Betsey Johnson did the dresses and I was fascinated with Deborah because her work had this cinematic quality to it. You have to understand that nobody was doing that at the time. You look at her work and you see it: her photographs have this patina to them; they are both glamorous and decayed." A short while later at the Staley Wise Gallery, fans of the photographer crowded around those same photographs (including the "Bath House" series she produced for Vogue in 1975), which were mounted— brilliantly— on brown butcher block paper and captioned in script with a black marker. On one side of the room, Turbeville, herself, held a sweetly reluctant court, clutching flowers someone had given her and accepting congratulations. “I am never very good at the openings,” she said quietly, more eager to talk about her work than herself. I asked about the photograph on the invitation. “Oh, yes. Of course,” she said smiling. "It was sort of a competition between all the shop windows on Fifth Avenue to see who could be the best and that's when Candy came to me with the idea. It was a wonderful time. And it was wonderful to work with Candy because she was what she still is—a brilliant editor." A wonderful time captured, indeed.


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