What we Love Today Column:
Ormond Gigli’s Girls In The Windows
One of the most awe-inspiring aspects to art is that it moves us in some undefinable way. It can move masses of people, yet we often have a hard time putting our finger on exactly what it is that about the piece. Utilizing art in a home raises our consciousness level, and opens up spaces in a way that mere decoration cannot. It’s magical.
Ormond Gigli's Girls In The Windows
in this stunning dining room in New York CityWhen sharing a Thanksgiving morning breakfast at our friend’s beautiful apartment overlooking Central Park to watch the Macy's Day Parade, there was certainly lots to notice. For starters, they live in The Langham (worthy of a post by itself) because to me it is one of NYC’s most iconic buildings. Needless to say, this art collecting family has lots of beauties to marvel at throughout their home, but every time I enter their dining room I am struck by the Ormond Gigli photograph of women standing in brightly colored dresses in the windows of what appears to be an abandoned building. The entire dining room is a homage to fashion with many iconic art pieces dotting the walls. My friend is a talented interior designer, and she did a fantastic job of creating a modern lifestyle in this historic space. Something about this piece though-- Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of the old and weathered with the new and colorful, both beautiful in their own way yet complementing one another. So, I did a little research and here’s what I learned about this photograph.
The backstory of Girls In The WindowsIn the 1960’s New York City was in flux, and many brownstones which were once beauties that dotted the landscape were being torn down. This brownstone on East 58th Street was ready for demolition, and part of the popular efforts at the time to eliminate urban decay. Photographer Ormond Gigli noticed the intricate designs of the windows and came up with the idea to photograph women in colorful fashion in each window. The supervisor of the demolition crew agreed to let them go ahead with the photo shoot with only one condition-- that the photographer include his wife in one of the poses. Just before the building was torn, the crew had 24 hours to find the models, locate the Rolls-Royce and create this infamous shot. Gigli had no idea this shoot would create quite a flurry of interest and soon swarms of people gathered around to watch, and within a short one-hour time frame, the photograph was finalized. This piece captures a snapshot of time in our country, post-war when we collectively started looking forward, a time of tearing down the old and bringing in the new. It's a sad time in some respects yet the photograph feels hopeful and uplifting as well. The photograph showing 43 women today is one of fashion’s most well-known images, and it helped to define Gigli’s career which has spanned over forty years. He is most well known for photographing theatre, celebrities, dance and images from exotic places around the world. His work has been celebrated in the pages of LIFE, TIME, PARIS MATCH, SATURDAY EVENING POST and more.
+fun facts-- Gigli's wife is the first floor, and the supervisor's wife is the second floor, third to the left.