Mario Testino Channels Irving Penn's Mid-Century Glamour

A question that stands the test of time: What's black, white and fishnet all over?
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A question that stands the test of time: What's black, white and fishnet all over?

Blog Part Nouveau, or ‘partly new’, delves into fashion history to showcase the inspiration–be it art, photography or design–behind some of today’s biggest fashion moments. It’s fascinating and impossible not to get lost in, so we asked the site’s founder, Lilah Ramzi, to give us a little history lesson each week.

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With the return of the midi skirt, along with Raf Simons citing the Dior archives as the predominant inspiration behind his latest collection for the house, it seems a sense of mid-century glamour is having a moment.

As Vogue's leading photographer, Irving Penn's sharp postwar imagery pierced the pages of the magazine in his signature high-contrast, black and white imagery. Penn's unforgettable cover for the magazine's April 1, 1950 issue features an immaculate Jean Patchett, enveloped in net and wrapped in a scarf, much like a life-sized New Look Barbie. For Vogue China's December 2013 issue, Mario Testino would look back to Penn's oeuvre with an editorial reminiscent of Penn's early work at Vogue. Model Shu Qi plays the role of Jean Patchett, restaging some of Penn's most well-known imagery.

Jean Patchett by Irving Penn for Vogue April 1 1950.

Jean Patchett by Irving Penn for Vogue April 1 1950.

Shu Qi by Mario Testino for Vogue China December, 2013.

Shu Qi by Mario Testino for Vogue China December, 2013.