Lisa Fonssagrives was the world’s first supermodel although she was never dubbed as such during her years. Her beauty, stature and the fact that she was a trained ballerina contributed to her career as a supermodel.
Lisa Fonssagrives was born in Sweden in 1911. At a young age, her parents encouraged her to take classes in art and ballet. As Lisa was growing up, she developed her love for dancing and soon was able to travel to Paris to pursue her passion. While she was there, she met a fellow dancer Fernand Fonssagrives and they eventually married in 1935. Fernand was also a budding photographer and took tons of photos of Lisa while dancing. He sold the photos of to French and European magazines, thus launching Lisa’s career as a model.
Lisa Fonssagrives’ fashion career hit big time in 1936 when photographer Horst P. Horst took some test shots of her for Paris Vogue magazine. Having all the qualities of a model, her pictures came out exceptional and soon, her face adorned the pages of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
In 1939, Lisa and Fernand moved to the United States where her career as a model skyrocketed. During her active years in the modelling industry (1930’s to 1950’s), she has appeared on the covers of Vanity Fair, Town & Country and LIFE magazine. She was photographed by well-known photographers like Man Ray, Edgar de Evia and Richard Avedon. While other models’ careers stopped at the young age of 30, Lisa Fonssagrives continued to model until she was over 40 years of age.
Her training in the art of ballet helped in contributing to the success of her modelling career. Her poise and elegance made her stand out from all the rest. In 1950, she married another photographer, Irving Penn, after divorcing Fernand Fonssagrives. Lisa was always the subject and inspiration of many of Irving Penn’s photographs.
After her modelling career, Lisa Fonssagrives went on to become a sculptor. Lisa died in 1992 at the age of 80. Years after her death, Irving Penn’s photo of Lisa sold at a photo auction for $57,360. This just proves that her beauty and elegance withstands time and she will remain to be one of the best supermodels of all time.