Madame D’ora was the first photographer to dedicate herself to fashion

There are people who are out of date and who were somehow ahead of their time. After all, many wanted to imitate them. A clear example is Madame D’ora, who was the first female photographer to portray fashion between the 1920s and 1930s. A time when a nude was being photographed was extremely scandalous.

Madame D'ora
Wikimedia Common
Madame D’ora was a prolific fashion photographer

Madame D’ora was born on March 20, 1881 in Vienna, Switzerland as Dora Philippine Kallmus. She was interested in photography from a young age. In 1905 she was the first woman to be accepted into the Austrian Association of Photographers. She was also the first woman allowed to study photo theory in 1908.

Madame D’ora’s work, which includes works in Vienna in the early 20th century and in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, is the most productive in history. The entire high society and the elite of artists of the time had a portrait of Madame D’ora.

Coco Chanel, Picasso, Colette, Elsa Schiaparelli and their famous wire-haired terrier Josephine Baker and many more posed for them. As Cristóbal Balenciaga’s personal friend, she was one of the last to take his portrait. He worked in the most extraordinary fashion magazines such as Vogue, Tatler, Vanity Fair and L’Officiel. His portraits went around the world several times. Her fame was so great that in 1916 she was asked to be the official photographer at the coronation of Emperor Charles and to take over the monarchy of Hungary.

Your beginnings as a photographer

His passion for photography began while walking along the Côte d’Azur, where he bought a Kodak camera. Although photography, like other professions at the time, was reserved for men, Madame D’ora was reluctant to regard photography as a simple hobby.

His unrestrained style, but elegant, modern, free and transgressive, gave him the opportunity to join the social elite of Europe. He opened his studio in Paris in 1925 and it was one of the most famous and sought-after of its time. People in European high society wanted a portrait made of her.

The Second World War affected his life

Although Madame D’ora’s life also had a tragic side and it can be seen in her portraits from WWII. When the Nazis took possession of Paris in 1940, Madame D’ora had to close her studio due to her Jewish status. For the remainder of the war, she lived in Ardeche in southern France, while her sister Anna, along with other relatives and mutual friends, was a fatal victim of the Chelmno concentration camp.

Madame D'ora and her dogs
1935 – picture by traveler, is

From 1948 D’ora’s work no longer has the glory of bygone times, but the suffering of refugees and slaughterhouses. The United Nations commissioned them to portray the horrors of war. Sick and malnourished elderly people, helpless orphans and the survivors of the Jewish community were their “role models”. His great photographs show the misery and how unsettling the war was. On October 28, 1963, he died in his family house in Frohnleiten, Austria, which had been confiscated by the Nazis.

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