SOTHEBY’S First Retrospective Of
Edward T. Callaghan
F there was one thing Francesco Scavullo knew about fashion it was that the only thing that transcended style was beauty. In his career of five decades he never wavered in his pursuit of capturing the inner and outer beauty of his subjects.
The first retrospective of his enormous body of work proved this in portrait after portrait from fashion king Karl Lagerfeld to rocker Janis Joplin to screen goddess Sophia Loren. Sotheby’s, Fountain House and Francesco Scavullo Foundation organized the show at Sotheby’s with the guidance of the late photographer’s longtime partner in life and business Sean Byrnes.
Event co-chairs fashion designer Katie Zorin and Lil Phillips of Lehman Brothers Private Banking recruited – very easily they noted – a stellar group of social dynamos headed up by honorary chairs Mikhail Baryshnikov and Susan Sarandon.
The committee included Chris and Michelle Barish, Tessa Benson, Alison and George Brokaw, Alistair and Blair Clarke, James Creel, Bingo Gubelman, Zani Gugelman, Shoshanna and Josh Gruss, Dylan Lauren, Harrison Le Frak, Tinsley Mortimer, Charles Rockefeller, Charlotte Ronson and Alison Woolworth.
More than 600 guests swarmed through the gallery sampling tasty treats from the Fountain House, a 60-year-old non-profit organization that provides employment, wellness and educational services to adults with mental illness.
Auctioneer Jamie Niven brought the crowd to order and ushered everyone into the auction room where oversized images of classic Scavullo works were flashed on the screen.
Town & Country editor Pamela Fiori introduced the woman with whom Scavullo had an extraordinary relationship, Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown. With Brown, Scavullo created the fabled "Cosmo girl" that graced the covers for three decades.
"He made you feel gorgeous," Brown said. "He made you come on to the camera as though you were talking to a lover."
Friends and fans remember him fondly, almost always with reference to his trademark sailor cap that he wore everywhere, even to black tie galas, and his zest for life, despite his own personal struggle with bi-polar disorder.
Among the legion of friends that turned out were such old pals as the ageless Carmen dell’Orrifice, Mary Mc Fadden, Carole Baer and Colin Lively, all laughing about the good times.
Scavullo’s work was featured in every top magazine, including Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Interview, Town & Country, Seventeen and Rolling Stone. He photographed the most famous personalities of the 20th Century.
He pioneered innovative lighting techniques that brought high glamour to his subjects and helped launch the careers of models that included Farrah Fawcett, Rene Russo and a then teenaged Brooke Shields who referred to him as "Uncle Frankie."
Scavullo’s legacy will live forever in the timely portraits he created.