Few photographers have had a greater impact on modern designers than Slim Aarons. His portraits of the American elite during the 50's, 60's, and 70's are iconic, representing a bygone era of carefree living and lives seemingly spent perpetually on vacation. The scenes he portrayed looked perfect, yet he never worked with a stylist or makeup artist. The nostalgia, style, and charm of his work has served as inspiration for creatives for years...inspiring fashion and interior designers, creative directors and stylists, who look to his work for a glimpse into the glamour of the past.
Born in 1916 in Manhattan, Aarons spent his boyhood on a farm in New Hampshire and was raised by his grandparents. At the age of 18, he enlisted in the military. His duties included working as an assistant in the photography lab, developing images of war..."The lowest level of photography" he claimed.
Slim eventually climbed the ranks, and served as a photographer at West Point, documenting military maneuvers. The famed director Frank Capra discovered him while making a movie to support the war effort. Capra had come to West Point looking for recruits to join him overseas on Yank, a military newspaper. Aarons gladly obliged, and spent the subsequent years as a photojournalist, documenting WWII. He earned a purple heart in Italy, but "Gave it to a blonde I knew after the war. She said she liked the color."
After the war, he returned home to the states, and was hired by Life Magazine to shoot portraits of the wealthy elite. Society events, Hollywood stars on holiday, croquet matches, and beautiful women sunning themselves by pools in Palm Springs...Aarons had traded in war photography to document "attractive people in attractive places doing attractive things."
Aarons would go on to shoot for Town & Country, Harper's Bazaar, and other storied publications, and eventually released a book of his images in 1974, titled A Wonderful Time: An Intimate Portrait of the Good Life. It was by and large considered a flop at the time of release, and collected dust on bookshelves for decades. That is until designers, art directors, and artists came upon it. Drawn to the colors, and scenes of seemingly perfect moments in time, A Wonderful Time has become a cult classic, and a must have for those who appreciate the nostalgia that Aaron's work evokes.
At Alps & Meters, we're especially inspired by the images that Slim shot in Verbier, Cortina D'Ampezzo, Aspen, Sun Valley, and Stowe. His work depicts apres ski at it's most outrageous. The Champagne flows freely while pinups sun themselves in bikinis. The pants were tight, the skis were straight, and the sweaters were oh so bright. Aaron's depicted so perfectly the style of the era, and his photos make us yearn for the glory days of après.