Parkinson poses with model Nena von Schlebrügge for Queen magazine
New York, 1960: Parkinson poses with model Nena von Schlebrügge for Queen magazine

Pig farming and fashion photography don't tend to go hand-in-hand, but for Norman Parkinson ‒ the 20th century's most revered and eccentric photographer ‒ it was his life. One day he would be shooting for British Vogue in London, and the next, rearing pigs on his farm in Tobago where he made his own brand of 'Porkinson' sausages. It was exactly this quirky sense of humour, love of travel and appetite for adventure that made him so successful in his field (no pun intended), and why working with Jaeger was a match made in fashion heaven…

'Parky' as he was affectionately known to his friends and family, was born in 1913 to a middle class English family and spent most of his youth in Putney ‒ one of London's leafiest districts. After studying at Westminster School, he was apprenticed to a firm of court photographers and trained in the formulaic, staid style that was synonymous with pre-war time photography. At just 21-years-old, Parkinson set up his own studio with a friend where they photographed debutants, and it wasn't long before they began receiving assignments from top society magazines such as Bystander and Harper's Bazaar. From then on, there was no stopping him, and he began to create his own style of photography: taking his models out into the real world (otherwise known as 'action realism') where they could walk, jump and run as they pleased.

Parkinson began to create his own style of photography: taking his models out into the real world where they could walk, jump and run as they pleased.
Think pink: Model Anne Gunning stands in front of Jaipur Palace wearing a Jaeger mohair coat

This new fashion narrative ‒ witty, whimsical and verging on surreal ‒ catapulted Parkinson into the limelight, and won him regular commissions from the world's top magazines: Vogue, Queen, Life, and Town & Country. He also went on to pioneer fashion shoots in exotic locations ‒ Malaysia, Australia and Jamaica to name just a few ‒ at a time when long-haul travel was still in its infancy. But, it was the Caribbean (and Tobago in particular) that stole his heart, and where he eventually set up home with his third wife and model muse, Wenda. "Parkinson loved to travel and relished the opportunity to seek out unusual locations. He was inspired by his surroundings and much preferred working outside the confines of a photographic studio," says Alex Anthony of the Norman Parkinson archive.

It was in many of these outlandish locations that Parkinson shot some of Jaeger's most iconic adverts and editorials. From Anne Gunning posing with a majestic elephant in India to another of his subjects perched on the chimney of a London rooftop, the British photographer brought Jaeger looks to life through spectacular story-telling. "He appreciated that his photographs needed to show the details of the clothes featured as well as creating a story or setting a tone," explains Anthony. These 'stories' often involved the man himself, as seen in his shoot for Queen in 1960 in which he poses with Nena von Schlebrügge, the mother of Hollywood actress Uma Thurman (wearing a beautiful red tweed Jaeger coat and skirt) in front of the New York skyline. Standing at 6ft 5" with his trademark handlebar moustache, he sports a signature Kashmiri wedding cap: an accessory that he insisted was vital for a successful shoot, and refused to work without.

And, we're not the only ones celebrating Norman Parkinson's life and work this year: renowned makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury has released a new beauty collection inspired by the man himself. Plus, the photographer's work will feature in Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon at the National Gallery in July. Don't miss it.

Norman loved to travel and relished the opportunity to seek out unusual locations. He was inspired by his surroundings and much preferred working outside the confines of a photographic studio
Alex Anthony, Norman Parkinson Archive
Goat on a boat: Parkinson's wife Wenda models Jaeger in India

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