Flying Furs | Behind the picture

Posted by Willy
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We are over the moon to have sixties & seventies supermodel, Willy van Rooy, join us here at Curate as a regular contributor! Willy was a darling of some of the best designers the world has ever seen and worked with iconic photographers during one of the most exciting eras in fashion history. Her face has graced every major fashion magazine on the planet that was in circulation during this time period. Here, in her debut column, she gives us the behind the scenes scoop on working with Helmut Newton to get these amazing shots that ran in British Vogue for the December 1967 issue. It's a remarkable glimpse into the story behind the picture!

"Hi, I am Willy van Rooy and I love everything about fashion. I studied Fashion at the Academy of Fine Arts in my home country of Holland for 4 years. When I graduated at the age of 21 and before I started looking for work, I went around the world and ended up in Japan where I did some pictures and movies. Once back in Holland after 3 years of traveling I decided to seriously become a model and with a friend, prepared a "book" using all my own homemade clothes (I learned to sew when I was 9) and I even printed the pictures myself (I learned that when still in school). London was ready and so was I! Bang, it all went very fast!

In this column I like to take you with me in front of the camera of some fashion shoots for Vogue and Harper's Bazaar done by some of the great photographers - Helmut Newton, David Bailey, James Moore and more....

It's so funny for me to think that the clothes we were posing in then, are now vintage. When does something become vintage? In the 60's and 70's I loved the 30's and the 40's - the bags, the shoes, the jewelry and the marvelous silk dresses cut on the bias so that it would flow in the breeze around your legs - so sexy! Even my own shoe line from the 80's-90's is now vintage, and me and the pictures I am going to show you here are vintage too.

We are going back to 1967 to start and the place we are going is "swinging" London.... it is more or less around October and this was not the first time I worked with Helmut Newton for English Vogue. I had always liked the fashion pictures of Newton so when I first came to London with my "book" to be a model in April 1967. I had just turned 26! I was invited by Vogue to meet their Editor In Chef, Beatrix Miller. I told Beatrix that I liked the pictures of Helmut Newton and would like to work with him. The next time he came to London, from his home in Paris, Vogue called me to their office to be introduced to Mr Newton. Ha ha, it was funny and I was sure he was going to book me, which happened. I believe that if you like the work of someone a lot, this person or company will like you in return because you somehow feel the same thing and so it was.

Before these "Flying Fur" pictures, Helmut had booked me already several times for Vogue editorials and for the French Elle and French Vogue but this particular Vogue spread was quiet an experience.

It was a sort of cold dreary English weather day and there we went, early in the morning, in a small bus with the clothes, the editor, the assistant, Helmut Newton and I, all on the way to a nearby small airport. No other model to chat with, I was all alone.

In those days we did our own make up and hair, so that is what I did while he was instructing the pilot. When I was ready and dressed in gorgeous furs and amazing boots, he instructed me to run in front of the plane when it was coming down and to wait for the last moment to start running so he could get the plane near me. You understand we could not do too many takes because the pilot had to come down and go up... and there were 8 changes of clothes to film! How very uncomfortable changing in the car right? Good thing the clothes were wonderful which is not always the case!

There I was, ready to jump and run... the noise of the motor of the plane was deafening and I was really scared in the end, but I was also very eager to do a good job so I put all my energy into it. Later when it was all done, the pilot told me it had been really very dangerous because once he was going down he could not see exactly how low he was... my goodness, the trouble we go through! But I think it was worth it. Actually it was all very fast and we did all these 8 pages in 1 day and all were published!

Every time I open a book by Newton, or see an exhibition, I see these pictures. At the last exhibition in Los Angeles I saw they had a video where they mentioned this shoot and how it all had been an idea of June Newton, who was of course also known as the photographer, Alice Springs. Even I did not know that it was her idea and not Helmuts!"

Love and Peace

Top Photo - Helmut Newton at work on this shoot
Below: The " Flying Fur" pictures that appeared in British Vogue, December 1967

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