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29 October 2014
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The Real Blow Up: Fashion, Fame and Photography in the '60s - 10 August, BBC TWO

"I think the Sixties is a time associated with photography more because the photographers themselves became iconic, and became cultural figures in their own right.

"I think prior to that, photographers had been the people, as it were, very much behind the cameras," says David Puttnam.

The Real Blow-Up tells the story of the photographers who cemented the image of swinging London and who, through their pictures, irreversibly altered the face of fashion and pop.

Through the first hand accounts of the models and photographers themselves, The Real Blow-Up examines the breaking down of barriers, the '60s cultural melting pot and the explosion of opportunity and creativity for those fortunate enough to be part of the scene.

Ultimately, everyone could be a celebrity - both behind and in front of the camera.

Aristocrats, musicians, models, actors and even gangsters mingled together in clubs and restaurants - a world captured by the decade's newest stars - the photographers.

The late 1950s was the elegant world of Cecil Beaton and Anthony Armstrong-Jones where the models were ex-debutantes.

Armstrong-Jones was the first photographer to break barriers in photography - his pictures were cheeky and refreshing, a reflection of the fact he did not take fashion too seriously.

His work was to pave the way for the new decade when young Londoners stormed the pages of Vogue, and new models Jean Shrimpton, Paulene Stone, Jill Kennington and Celia Hammond replaced the elegant ex-Debs.

David Bailey says of the image that brought him to prominence - a 1960 shot of Paulene Stone that ran in the Daily Express: "I remember Donovan phoning me up and saying, 'Bailey, What have you done?', and I thought, what's wrong? 'Do you realise this picture's a breakthrough?' Now you see it and think it's a girl with a squirrel."

Bailey went to Vogue, and photography was never to be the same again.

As Mary Quant observes: "No fashion picture had ever been taken like that before. It was just a great slap of excitement. It was tremendous.

"When I showed the collections, I knew that I wanted the girls to move like Bailey photographs, to jump and to be alive."

Fashion photography was no longer about clothes, it was about selling a mood.

The Real Blow Up explores the astonishing changes in photography - from the sculptural and polite forms of the '50s to the wild shapes, locations and attitudes of the '60s.

Social change was documented through the fashion pages, and '50s couture gave way to mini skirts and trouser suits, which in turn gave way to kaftans and kimonos.

The new style of photography led to working partnerships between models and photographers - Celia Hammond and Donovan, Bailey and Jean Shrimpton, and Paulene Stone and Duffy.

These relationships paved the way for a greater intimacy in the images.

Later in the decade, a Barry Lategan photograph appeared in the Daily Express of a young skinny model - the Twiggy phenomenon was born.

"What happened to me was a new thing… I don't know why it happened to me. I just happened to have the look for the time," comments Twiggy.

Not only in the fashion world were changes taking place, in the closely linked music world, the revolution was underway.

Andrew Loog Oldham, the young manager of The Rolling Stones, hired Bailey to shoot a new album cover for the band.

"With Bailey you had the opportunity to have the visual partner to what you were trying to do in sound," says Oldham.

Pop photographer Gered Mankowitz shares his memories of working with The Stones and Marianne Faithfull - recalling the shoots that spawned the now iconic images.

And in an era where fame could be visited on literally anyone, Lewis Morley created his now world famous image of Christine Keeler sitting naked on a chair, an image on which he comments: "I don't think it's such a great picture to tell you the truth."

David Bailey featured young guns David Puttnam, Mick Jagger and Michael Caine, alongside the Krays, Vidal Sassoon and Lord Snowdon in his 1964 collection, Box of Pin Ups - termed Bailey's Box of Tricks by Sassoon.

The publication attracted huge controversy - royalty combined with London's most notorious gangsters.

However, it is now considered a collector's item worth thousands of pounds - except for those who have mislaid the packing card!

The glamour and decadence of the era were captured in Italian film-maker Antonioni's 1966 film, Blow-Up, with David Hemmings in the lead role.

Hemmings recounts the story behind his casting, and Terence Stamp recalls how he lost the coveted role.

Opinions on the film's merits are divided - "I thought it was a load of old rubbish," comments Lewis Morley, whereas Philippe Garner, photography expert, notes: "Few films so perfectly capture aspects of the mood of the moment - of London in the 1960s."

Blow-Up broadcasts on BBC TWO directly following The Real Blow-Up.

Interwoven alongside Adam Faith's commentary are interviews with the key characters of the era, including David Bailey, Lord Snowdon, Gered Mankowitz, Lewis Morley, Twiggy, Lord Heseltine, Celia Hammond, Jill Kennington, Mary Quant, Vidal Sassoon, Andrew Loog Oldham, Christine Keeler, Molly Parkin, Nicky Haslam, David Hemmings, Daniel Galvin, Marit Allen, Barry Lategan and George Melly.

Their unique insights lay bare the world behind the photography of the most glamourous decade of recent times - the '60s.

Notes to Editors

The Real Blow-Up is a BBC production for BBC TWO.
Producer/Directors: Elaine Shepherd, Martina Hall
Executive Producer: Mary Sackville-West

Blow Up (1966)

A visual testament to the culture of the 1960s, Blow-Up tells the story of Thomas, a nihilistic, wealthy fashion photographer in mod Swinging London.

Filled with ennui, bored with his "fab" but oddly-lifeless existence of casual sex and drug use, Thomas comes alive when he wanders through a park and stops to take pictures of a couple embracing.

Upon returning to his studio, he develops the images, and through a series of photo blow-ups, believes that he has photographed a murder.

Blow-Up was Antonioni's first English-speaking film, filmed entirely in London.

Writer & Director: Michelangelo Antonioni.

Cast includes: David Hemmings, Sarah Miles, Vanessa Redgrave, Verushka, Jane Birkin.

To accompany The Real Blow-Up, BBCi shows exclusive clips of the programme's interviewees, alongside key pictures of the decade.

The Real Blow-Up site goes live from 9 August.



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