Jean Patchett was both model and muse, a famous face from New York's vibrant midcentury popular culture and the most successful high-fashion model of her time.
A small-town girl from rural Maryland, Patchett had no firm ambitions until a friend suggested she drop out of college and go to New York and become a model. Within a year Jean had left school, met model agent Eileen Ford, and begun a career that saw her photographed by the greatest photographers of her era, with more than 58 magazine covers over 14 years.
"A young American goddess in Paris couture," was Irving Penn's epitaph for the model he photographed for a classic series in Lima, Peru where, pushed past their limits, Patchett and Penn created passionate art with a possible passionate relationship as well. Penn would go on to create stunning images of Patchett forVogueand later, for a series of nudes he called "the major artistic experience of my life." Letters from Patchett to her family show a young woman in love with her life and eager to share the thrills and struggles of her career. Quotes from photographers Cecil Beaton, John Rawlings, William Helburn, Jerry Schatzberg, and Francesco Scavullo reflect their admiration for her technical skills as a model as well as her unique beauty. A work diary from 1951 allows us to see how-and with whom-she worked from day to day.
American Goddess: Jean Patchettdefines Patchett's career in a biographical essay and explores its scope in 120 editorial and advertising images fromVogue,Glamour, andHarper's Bazaar-some iconic, some personal, and some that have never been seen before. It's a unique look at a model who defined a decade and a rare collection of extraordinary images that explore her unique appeal.
Robert Lillyis a veteran journalist and co-author ofWilliam Helburn: Seventh and Madison, Mr. Lilly has written and produced programs, stories and documentaries for NBC News, CNN, Reuters, Vice, and VH1 and filed stories from dubious locations in Central America, the Middle East, and Manhattan. He loves great food and wine, loud music, The Womps, and scuba diving. Mr. Lilly is a native New Yorker and a member of the Producers Guild of America. Lois Allen Lillyis avoiceover artist and co-author ofWilliam Helburn: Seventh and Madison, Ms. Lilly dazzled audiences as a rock and roll DJ in Florida before working as a radio stringer in the Middle East, producer and reporter for PBS' award-winningNightly Business Report, artist's representative, and intellectual property specialist. She loves great food and wine (preferably organic), Paris, and The Womps, and is a member of New York Women in Film and Television.
"American Goddess is one of the delights within the genre that should be read by anyone who needs to know what it was like to be part of fashion and what it took to succeed in one of the business' earliest heydays."