School Days: Wellesley College, 1949

18/10/2012 § 4 Comments

These great pictures, taken by Nina Leen for Life Magazine, make me wish I could find Doc Brown to fix my flux capacitor so I could pop back to 1949 to either a) hang out with all these rad girls at Wellesley College in 1949 and/or b) abscond back to the present day with all their clothes.  Barring that, I suppose you can officially consider me on high alert vintage patrol for one of those double-breasted trench coats with a fur collar.  If you happen to find one, be a dear and let a (Seven) Sister know.

Photos taken by Nina Leen on October 10, 1949, via the Life Archive.

Summer on Long Island

13/08/2012 § 2 Comments

For a perfect summer on Long Island, you’ll need a healthy serving of golf, a few polo ponies, a couple of playboys and a sailboat or two — be sure to add in a country club membership, if you’ve got one handy.  Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass.  Serve via private seaplane, natch.

See also: Summer on the Cape

Members of the country club lounging on the lawn, watching the sailboats.

Men lining their sailboats up at the start line at the Seawanhaka Yacht Club.

Top polo player Stewart Iglehart, standing with his pony.

A man wrapping Stephen Sanford‘s hurt ankle.

Polo player Pete Botswick and his wife, looking out onto the field.

Michael Phipps sitting in his car, smiling at his dog.

Members of the country club sun bathing on the beach.

Members of the country club sitting outside near the swimming pool.

Mr. Thomas Bradley and his wife playing golf at the country club.

Taken June 1946 by Nina Leen for Life Magazine, via the Life Archive.

LIFE Archives: LIFE Photographer Nina Leen

24/06/2011 § Leave a comment

Nina Leen is easily one of my favorite LIFE photographers.  She was one of the first female photographers for LIFE and has a prolific body of work.   You’ve probably noticed I’ve featured her work a few times on the blog a few times — my most favorite images are from her studies of the American Woman and the American Man in the mid-1940s — and I recently went looking in the archives to see if I couldn’t find a few pictures of the woman behind the camera.  I found some great images; Nina looks spunky, arty and so effortlessly cool.  I wasn’t aware it was possible, but I may love her even more…

LIFE Archives: The American Man {also, Nina Leen}

08/03/2011 § 9 Comments

For the August 26, 1946 issue of LIFE Magazine, photographer Nina Leen was tapped again to capture distinctly American characters.  After photographing the American girl for “The American Look” article in 1945, she then turned her lens on “The American Man.”  Leen’s European roots — she was born in Russia, and lived in Germany, Switzerland and Italy — and her seven years living in the US were touted as perfect credentials, as she had become “thoroughly familiar with American men without becoming used to them.”  Leen’s article is an amusing view on the character and habits of the “exotic” American man, coupled with beautiful images of postwar menswear.

“HE IS HUSKY, takes enormous quantities of physical exercise.
HE IS HANDSOME, but not so handsome as he thinks he is.
HE IS COLLEGIATE, manages to resmemble a Yale man for years.”

“HE LOVES SMALL ANIMALS, will often stop on the sidewalk to scratch the ears of a stray cat.
HE EATS ICE CREAM in enormous quantities, savoring it as a Frenchman would a vintage wine.
HE MARRIES EARLY, usually looks entirely too younge to be the father of his growing family.”
“HE DRINKS MILK when dining out.  In Europe only invalids or men with ulcers would do this.
HE IS TALL and likes to look taller.  He considers being six feet tall a personal achievement.
HIS SECRETARY is apt to be very pretty, something which European wives would not tolerate.
LEFT TO HIMSELF at the delicatessen, he runs amok, always buys too much beer, cold meat.”

“A BLUR is all one seems of him in the morning as he bursts from his house to make the train.
BUT HE DAWDLES, once in the city, stopped by excavations, shop windows, tennis matches.
HIS BUSINESS SUIT is his uniform.  With it he wears a four-in-hand tie, may carry a briefcase.”

“One thing that Miss Leen immediately noticed about the American is his legs…Their favorite position, particularly during business conferences, is on tables or desks, the higher the better.”

This last group of images of the “slouching American man” is my favorite.  Leen shot these at the New York office of Young & Rubicam, an ad agency founded in 1923 that still operates to this day at its original Madison Avenue address.  What we are treated to are photos of real Mad Men.

Did you notice he’s drinking milk?

I was able to dig up plenty of images Leen took for this article in the LIFE archives.  They are such a wonderful look at the 1946 American male, through the amused eyes of Leen.

How sweet is Hughie?!

Hey, mister suspenders — I really heart your anchor tattoo.

All images via LIFE.

Further reading: “LIFE: The American Man

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