Of all the brilliant minds that had a hand in the twentieth century’s currency of supermodels, none was a far reaching as Richard Avedon. From post-war Paris to the Swinging 60s, and again in the Glamazon zenith of the late 80s, the photographer’s partiality for a certain model was the unofficial invitation to the world’s most exclusive sorority. Of all the models he anointed, his favorite was “the most beautiful woman in the world”, the inimitable China Machado. She worked alongside him as a muse and collaborator from their first images for the February 1959 issues of Harper’s Bazaar until his death in 2004. The handsome Machado joined the international jetset on the arm of Luis Miguel Dominguín, a dashing bullfighter who spotted the nineteen-year-old beauty in Lima, Peru. (Her family had fled Shanghai for South America as political refugees). The two-year dalliance would end in heartbreak for Machado – Dominguín would famously leave her for Ava Gardner – but it lead her to Paris where she was quickly recruited as a house model for Givenchy. It was not long before she became the object of the dynamic gaze of the Avedon lens. She was immortalized in their most famous image, cigarette held aloft with imposing languor, pert features set at anserine angles, hair piled high like a knob on a Chinese goose. Six Geese-a-Laying, with the regal bearing of China Machado.
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