The Picture of Dorian Leigh

Dorian Leigh, Trigere coat, 1950.

>> If a five foot, five inch woman tried to be a model these days, she'd hardly be taken seriously. Sixty-odd years ago, it was a different story . . . at least for Dorian Leigh, it was.

Ms. Leigh, who passed away earlier this week at 91 after battling Alzheimer's, was widely considered one of the world's first supermodels. In fact, her life was full of firsts: she was one of the first models to be known by name, and after her own modeling career, she opened what is called the first modeling agency in Paris.

Though Dorian started her career late — when she was 27 in 1944, she met with Diana Vreeland, told her she was 19, and landed a Harper's Bazaar cover right then and there — she appeared on seven Vogue covers in the 1940s, and claimed to be earning a whopping $300,000 a year.

She played muse to numerous bold name photographers: Cecil Beaton, Richard Avedon, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Irving Penn — the last of whom she had an affair with, and may have been the inspiration for Holly Golightly in Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's. But she didn't take her job too seriously, declaring in 1953: "I'd rather have a baby than a mink coat."
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