Lisa Fonssagrives


      { B I O G .}


        Date of birth:
        May 17, 1911

        Birth name:
        Lisa Anderson

        5' 8"

        Ferdinand Fonssagrives (divorced)
        Irving Penn

        Date of death:
        February 4, 1992



        Lisa Fonssagrives is considered by many to be the world's first supermodel and none have surpassed her number of Vogue covers alone. Very little is known about this Swedish beauty, though her image graced the cover of every fashion magazine during the 1930s, '40s and '50s from Town & Country, Life, Vogue to the original Vanity Fair. Her early training in ballet could not be mistaken in the grace and poise for which she was famous. She was photographed by George Hoyningen-Huene, Man Ray, Horst, Erwin Blumenfeld, George Platt Lynes, Richard Avedon, and Edgar de Evia, not to mention both of her husbands, Fernand Fonssagrives and Irving Penn.

        She is known to have described herself as simply a "good clothes hanger." She was so much more. She has been described as "the highest paid, highest praised, high fashion model in the business". She moved from Sweden to Paris to train for ballet and she would say that modeling was simply "still-dancing".

        She was both muse and inspiration to the cream of fashion photographers with her seventeen-inch waistline. Married first to Parisian photographer Fernand Fonssagrives in 1935, they divorced and in 1950 she married Irving Penn. Asked how she maintained her figure, she always insisted on the importance of eating in small quantities. She would at times consume as many as ten tiny meals a day. To her a tiny meal might mean only six grapes, a single slice of cheese, one cracker and half a glass of wine. Always eating, but never anything much, was her motto.

        She went on to become a sculptor and was represented by the Marlborough Gallery in Manhattan.

        She died at the age of 81 and was survived by her second husband Irving Penn, her daughter Mia Fonssagrives-Solow, who is a costume designer, and her first husband Ferdinand Fonssagrives.


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