'I adore that pink, it's the navy blue of India', declared Diana Vreeland, former editor of Vogue, in 1962. By this she meant that, just as navy blue in the Western culture signifies conservative respectability, pink exemplifies tradition and balance in India.
This was also the title of a photography exhibit I visited at Tasveer, last evening in Bangalore.
It is an exhibit of the works of British photographer, Norman Parkinson. 1913-1990.
In a career that spanned seven decades, Norman Parkinson dazzled the world with his sparkling inventiveness as a fashion photographer. His long association with Vogue, and his numerous assignments for Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country and other international magazines, brought him worldwide recognition. Standing at 6 feet 5 inches tall, Parkinson was unable to remain unobtrusive behind the lens and instead created ‘Parks’, the moustachioed, ostentatiously elegant fashion photographer – as much a personality as those who sat for him, and frequently more flamboyant.
His trip to India, in 1956, was an incredible experience for him and for the readers of Vogue. After the austerity of the war and the focus on Europe, Britain was eager to embrace the larger world. When British Vogue suggested that he do a major photo shoot in India, Parkinson welcomed it. He instinctively knew that his readers wanted to see not only his fashion but also the country. In the 1950s, flights were still expensive and infrequent, so for many people their window to the world was through magazines and papers. His plan was to take Western fashion and combine it with Indian style. It was an ideal marriage, the clothes blended beautifully with the surroundings.