“Bettina” Photography Exhibition Retraces 1950s Fashion History


Born Simone Bodin she was named “Bettina” by Jacques Fath when she started modelling for the French couturier in 1947 and quickly became the top model of her time, thanks in part to her fresh face free from make-up and a boyish hair-cut that became popular in Paris.

She wrote in her memoirs that she owed her success “more to an expressive face than to my good looks,” and whether that was being overly modest or not, her striking green eyes and red hair, her gamine persona and natural elegance certainly captured the imagination of the leading fashion photographers of the 1950s.

A photography exhibition, “Bettina”, paying tribute to her career and bringing together works by Erwin Blumenfeld, Irving Penn, Norman Parkinson, Horst P. Horst, and Jean-Philippe Charbonnier, to name a few, is currently presented at the Galleria Carla Sozzani in Milan and runs until November 2 and will then move on to Galerie Azzedine Alaia in Paris opening November 13.

With about 100 photographs, this show offers an opportunity to revisit the heyday of French fashion of the 1950s as Bettina modelled for several of the greatest names of the time, such as Christian Dior, Lavin, Balenciaga, and Hubert de Givenchy, for whom she acted as an important muse at the start of his career as well as press agent – Givenchy named his first collection after her and the "Bettina" blouse, a white blouse with tiered frilled sleeves, remains an icon of the period.