The Eye of Photography: Melvin Sokolsky’s High Flight in Lumiere Gallery

Lumière Gallery in Moscou opens the first exhibition of fashion photographer Melvin Sokolsky in Russia.

Here it is with the quotes that Melvin himself added.


The iconic Bubbles series brought worldwide fame to the then 30-year-old Sokolsky. Back in 1963, the young Melvin Sokolsky created an unprecedented series of photographs with models hovering over the streets of Paris in giant transparent spheres. Inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, Sokolsky’s series combines surrealism with the world of haute couture, and also street photography in the fashion industry, which was becoming increasingly popular at the time. The main image of the series, Bubble on the Seine, 1963 captured the French model Simone D’Aillencourt in a haute couture suit frozen within a Plexiglass sphere over the smooth Seine. It was this photograph that became one of the most influential and iconic fashion images to go down in history. “The art director of Harper’s Bazaar, Henry Wolf, gave me complete conceptual freedom at the time. He was only interested in my personal, artistic vision. The main thing was for people to look at my work and say – that’s a Sokolsky,” he recalls.


Glimpses of surrealism in Sokolsky’s work are also found in his 1963 series with giant pieces of furniture. To photograph the models, an ordinary chair and table from Melvin’s mother’s kitchen were scaled up multiple times: “It was real magic to see the graceful figures of the models on this huge chair,” he says.

Two years after the legendary Bubbles series, in 1965, in Paris’ Saint Regis, Sokolsky photographed the American model and actress Dorothy McGowan levitating in urban scenery wearing dresses by DIOR and BALMAIN. In the shoots, McGowan, who was a muse of Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and William Klein, was suspended in a special corset with rings through which thin steel cables were passed, allowing assistants to maneuver her position in the air. “There is no such thing as impossible for Melvin when he has an idea,” McGowan once said.

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