Share this post


31 UK Biba Portrait Brown Lace Evening Dress 1970V1_No_Crop


Historic fashion photos from the swinging 60s and iconic portraits of Albert Einstein, Sir Richard Attenborough, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Indira Gandhi, Sir Roland Penrose, Twiggy, Joanna Lumley and Le Corbusier are included in the three retrospective exhibitions by American-born photographer Marilyn Stafford (b.1925)  set to go on show this Autumn across the UK.


An older bloke – a middling executive type in a soft hat and shiny shoes – stops to stare on a rainy day in Paris, his raincoat buffeted by the wind. He’s mesmerized by the vision before him. On the corner of a street an angular model in angular clothes cants herself to the mildly ridiculous angles the poses of the time required. The model’s laughing – the photographer must have told her that L’Homme Moyen Sensuel was lurking behind, greedily savouring up every morsel of girliness, the better to remember it all in his suburban villa later on. It’s an unlikely cross between the stiff fashion pictures of some years earlier, and the street photography Marilyn Stafford loved. Stafford never had a studio; when she got a fashion job, it was the street or nothing.Professor Francis Hodgson, Culture of Photography, University of Brighton.


Marilyn, born in the US but now settled on the south coast of England after a life spent travelling and shooting in Europe, the Middle East and beyond, will present one touring historical fashion exhibition and one non-touring historical portrait exhibition, both of which include showing newly excavated and previously unseen sections of her photographic archive in three locations – from an established London gallery to a shopping centre in Hull as part of an international festival.


Her photographic career – which covers a diverse portfolio from fashion shoots to photojournalism in the Middle East and North Africa for international publications including The Observer – launched in New York in 1948 when she was asked to photograph Albert Einstein by friends making a film about him. From there on, her career took her across the world, starting in Paris in the 1950s. There, friends and Magnum founders Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson were instrumental in shaping her work. While completing commissions from a number of Paris fashion houses, she also photographed street children living in one of the city’s notorious slums. In 1958 Marilyn traveled to Tunisia to document the Algerian refugees fleeing France’s ‘Scorched Earth’ attacks following a period of French colonialism in Algeria (50 years ago this year), and in the early 1960s she went on to travel widely in Lebanon. In the mid 1960s she settled in London, where, as one of a handful of women photographers, she helped pave the way for future female photographers working on Fleet Street as well as running her own photography agency. Her photographic work spans the 1950s to the 1980s. Many years later, in 2017, she founded the Marilyn Stafford FotoReportage Award, facilitated by FotoDocument and supported by Olympus, to highlight the work of female photographers all over the world who focus on under-reported social or environmental issues.


Marilyn Stafford: A Fashion Retrospective – From Haute Couture to the Birth of Prêt-à-Porter


  • Hull International Photography Festival (5 – 28 October)
  • Lucy Bell Gallery, Hastings (27 October – 17 November)

This exhibition, curated by Alan Raw for Hull International Photography festival and co-curated by Lucy Bell and Nina Emett of FotoDocument for Lucy Bell Gallery, is a retrospective of Marilyn Stafford’s fashion portraits, taken during her remarkable photographic career. Stafford photographed many iconic designers, including Biba and Chanel, for international publications and helped to illustrate the fashion of London and Paris from the 1950s through the 1970s. In Hull the work will be displayed in the Princes Quay Shopping Centre, allowing passers-by to view some of Marilyn’s most iconic work within the setting of modern fashion brands and shops.


Marilyn Stafford: Silent Echoes – Portraits from the Archive


  • After Nyne Gallery, London (18 – 30 October)

This exhibition, curated by Nina Emett of FotoDocument and supported by Olympus, features Marilyn’s portraits which are some of her most iconic work, spanning a wide range of international household names across fashion, politics, art, film and literature. The exhibition also includes lesser known figures – but equally deserving of a place in history – including Francesca Serio, the first Italian person to bring the mafia to trial for killing her son or Algerian mother who fled to Tunisia during Algeria’s War of Independence featured in The Observer 50 years ago in 1958.

“I am delighted to be able to bring my work to public view this Autumn in three very different locations across the UK. It’s thrilling to have gone through my archives in more depth following a successful grant from Arts Council England and to show many of my photographs for the first time. These exhibitions span almost half a century of travelling and shooting, from fashion to well known figures to the social and political. They bring back so many wonderful memories,”  says Marilyn Stafford.



For press information, images or interviews: / 07794 694 754



  • Born in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, Marilyn Stafford’s early dreams were for a theatrical career. Her photographic career was accidently launched in New York in 1948 when she was asked to photograph Albert Einstein by friends making a film about him. In the car on the way to Einstein’s home in New Jersey, she was given a camera and a quick lesson in how to use it. From there on, her photographic career took her across the world, starting in Paris in the 1950s. There her friendship and guidance by Magnum founders Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson were instrumental in shaping her work. While completing commissions for a number of Paris fashion houses she also photographed children living in one of the city’s worst slums – Cite Lesage-Boullourde – which was later bulldozed to make way for the Paris Opera Bastille, 1984.
  • These photographs are featured in her Monograph: “Stories in Pictures – A Photographic Memoir – 1950”. In the early 1960s she travelled widely in Lebanon where she produced the photo book: “Silent Stories – A Photographic Journey Through Lebanon in the Sixties” (Saqi Books, London) and in India where she spent many weeks documenting the country’s only woman Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi.
  • She settled in England in the mid-sixties, where she was one of a handful of women photographers working on Fleet Street.
  • Stafford’s work spans from 1950s – 1980 and covers a variety of subjects including refugees, tribal peoples, international fashion and prominent historical figures. Her portraits include Edith Piaf, Alberto Moravia, Indira Gandhi, Italo Calvino, Lee Marvin, Joanna Lumley, Sir Richard Attenborough among others.
  • Her work has been exhibited all over the world and is syndicated through Sipa press, Paris and Camera Press, London.
  • Working as a reportage photographer in a largely male industry, Stafford personally experienced how difficult it was for women to balance career and family, especially when each opportunity was hard won. She recognises that this difficulty still exists for women in the industry today and with the launch of this Award she hopes to help redress the balance.
  • Marilyn’s book “Stories in Pictures: A Photographic Memoir” can be purchased here –




Marilyn Stafford: A Fashion Retrospective – From Haute Couture to the Birth of Prêt-à-Porter


Showing at Hull International Photography Festival 5 -28 October in Creative & Cultural Space 6 Princes Quay, Hull HU1 2PQ.

18.30 – 20.30 Friday 5th

10.00 – 17.00 Saturday 6th

10.00 – 16.00 Sunday 7th & Monday 8th

12.00 – 17.00 Tuesday to Saturday 9th – 27th

12.00 – 16.00 Sundays 14th – 28th




Exhibition takes place 27 October – 17 November 2018, gallery is open Tuesday – Friday 11am-4pm  Saturday 11am-5pm Sunday 1-4pm


Lucy Bell Fine Art

46 Norman Road

St Leonards on Sea

East Sussex

TN38 0EJ





Marilyn Stafford: Silent Echoes – Portraits from the Archive


Exhibition takes place 18 – 30 October 2018.

Opening hours:

After Nyne Gallery is situated at 10 Portland Road, London, W11 4LA

Gallery opening times 10.00 – 18.00 Tuesday – Saturday