Emerging from World War II a combat photographer who had witnessed his share of horror, George Allen "Slim" Aarons (1916-2006) determined he would photograph only “attractive people in attractive places doing attractive things.”
And so he did. While working for Life, Town & Country and Holiday magazines, Aarons photographed a veritable who’s who of high society: Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier in Monaco; Bing Crosby at Pebble Beach; and John Huston at his hideaway in Puerto Vallarta.
“I’d wandered through enough concentration camps and bombed-out villages," Aarons said. "I’d slept in the mud and been shot at. I owed myself some easy, luxurious living. I wanted to be on the sunny side of the street.”
Aarons received the Purple Heart after being injured in Italy. “I gave it to a blonde I knew after the war. She said she liked the color,” he told Vanity Fair in 2003. After the war, he began shooting for Life. When the magazine wanted him to shoot the Korean War, he declined, saying, “I’ll only do a beach if it has a blonde on it.”
True to his word, Aarons roamed the world for more than forty years photographing everything that was cool and chic about old money with his trusty Leica camera. About the wealthy, he once joked, “Even their vegetables are better.”
His most famous photograph, Poolside Gossip (1970), captured the good life found in legendary architect Richard Neutra’s iconic Palm Springs, California, designed home known as the Kaufmann Desert House.
Aarons work may be the polar opposite of Ansel Adams', but in the world of style photography, Aarons’ images of elegant design, masterful composition and haute couture, always captured in lurid, saturated colors, have been wildly influential, inspiring everyone from fashion designers Michael Kors and Anna Sui to musician Lenny Kravitz.
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