Polly Maggoo, the fabulous 22-year-old supermodel, never existed until subversive American artist and fashion photographer William Klein created her. In his 1966 film, Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?, a young Polly Maggoo is discovered by a talent agent amongst a crowd of crazed Beatles fans. Polly Maggoo soon finds herself in the ridiculously glamorous world of Parisian fashion and the object of much desire. The absurdity continues when the waify beauty is pursued by two different uber-men – a faraway Prince Charming and a middle-age TV Producer. The perfect fairy-tale beginning, but you can perhaps guess how it ends.
Not only is this film wildly stylish – think bizarre 60s op-art backdrops, outrageous conceptual outfits and strange props – it also beautifully satirizes the fashion industry and in particular, Diana Vreeland, the real life Vogue Editor of the day, whom Klein worked under as Fashion Photographer.
“I’m pretty sure there’s more to life than being really, really ridiculously good looking. And I plan on finding out what that is.” Derek Zoolander
It’s worth noting that Polly Maggoo was a fake based on a real Vogue model, Dorothy McGowan, a Brooklyn girl who in real-life was discovered at a Beatles rally. Also worth noting is that after playing the title role in Who are You, Polly Maggoo?, her first and only film, McGowan disappeared from the limelight and never modelled or acted again.
“The better you look, the more you see.” Brett Easton Ellis, Glamorama
Text by Howard Collinge- The Unique Creatures