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The Influence of the Scavullo Look on Fashion Photography

Abhishek Kumar


“Something in my head gets turned on by seeing a woman’s looks really come together with the right makeup, the right hair style, the right clothes. It’s exciting to see a woman metamorphosed into something extraordinary.”

Francesco Scavullo

Scavullo and his 1984 portrait of Sting

Francesco Scavullo was an American photographer who had a long and successful career in fashion, celebrity, and portrait photography. He was known for his use of soft lighting, which created a dreamy and ethereal look in his photographs. Scavullo’s images often featured models with flawless skin, high cheekbones, and seductive expressions. The Scavullo look is an iconic style of fashion photography created by Francesco Scavullo. It is characterized by a unique mix of glamour, beauty, and sensuality, and has had a major impact on fashion photography since the 1950s. The Scavullo look has become so recognizable that it has been featured in advertising campaigns for some of the world’s leading fashion brands, including Chanel, Gucci, and Yves Saint Laurent.

Vogue Design No. 6397

He was born on December 16, 1921, in Staten Island, New York City. He received his first camera as a gift at the age of seven, and by the age of twelve, he was already developing his own film. After graduating from high school in 1945, Francesco Scavullo began working for a studio that produced fashion catalogs. He soon moved on to Vogue. He spent three years as Horst’s assistant, studying Horst’s techniques. In 1948, Francesco Scavullo created a cover for Seventeen that won him a contract with the magazine. Scavullo’s soon opened his own studio in Manhattan.

Cover image of Scavullo on Beauty

Scavullo’s signature style was characterized by soft, romantic images that showcased the beauty and femininity of his subjects. He was known for his use of bold colors, dramatic lighting, and creative angles. He was able to capture the essence of his subjects in his photographs and was praised for his ability to “tell a story” with his shots. Scavullo’s work had a significant influence on fashion photography, particularly in terms of the beauty standards that were set by his images. His use of soft lighting and focus on highlighting the models’ features helped to create a new standard of beauty that was characterized by a youthful and radiant appearance.

Good Housekeeping cover from July 1967 with photo of Alana Collins (later Alana Stewart) by Scavullo

The Scavullo look has been so influential in fashion photography that it has spawned an entire genre of photography known as “Scavullo-esque” photography. This type of photography is characterized by a focus on texture, light, and composition, and often features a soft, ethereal quality. Scavullo-esque photography often places more emphasis on beauty and glamour than traditional fashion photography, and has become popular among fashion photographers looking to create unique and timeless images. In addition to its influence on fashion photography, the Scavullo look has also influenced the way beauty is portrayed in popular culture. Scavullo’s images often featured women with voluptuous curves and full lips, which challenged traditional beauty standards of the time. This has had a lasting impact on the way women are portrayed in the media and has helped to expand the definition of beauty.

Francesco Scavullo martha grahams dancers

Scavullo’s work also influenced the way that models were portrayed in fashion photography. His images often featured models in sensual poses, which helped to establish the idea of the model as a sexual object. This was a significant shift from the more traditional, more modest poses that were commonly used in fashion photography at the time. His works helped to redefine the way that fashion photography was seen and created a new standard for the industry that still influences fashion photography today.

In addition to his fashion photography, Scavullo also produced many successful books and calendars, including Cover Girls, Scavullo on Beauty, Scavullo Women, and Scavullo on Men. He was also the author of several books on photography, including Photography Made Easy and Francesco Scavullo On Photography. Scavullo died on January 6, 2004, at the age of 82. His photographs continue to be celebrated for their beauty, elegance and for capturing the essence of their subjects. He was also known for being very professional and precise, He was a master of lighting, composition and make-up, and his work has been widely admired and imitated.

Still Life with Flowers


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francesco_Scavullo
  2. http://www.lisicontemporaryart.com/scavullo-francesco/
  3. https://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/07/arts/francesco-scavullo-fashion-photographer-dies-at-82.html