Don’t suffer from Windows errors anymore.
Ormond Gigli, a longtime photographer for TIME, LIFE, Paris Match and more, has photographed people ranging from peasants to movie stars over the years. But her famous picture “Girls in the Windows”, taken on East 58th Street in New York in 1960, was created on a whim.
This image is considered one of the most iconic fashion trends of the 1960s. It captures a special piece of a long-vanished New York City (the brown stones shown in the photo were demolished after this date). The influence of the image extends to street photography as well. TIME reached out to Gigli ahead of the mid-November release of a new book that chronicles his life’s work.
Girls were not ordered in Windows, how did it happen?
No, it wasn’t homework. I had a brown [studio] right across the street on East 58th Street, and one day I look out the window and see them tearing down the brown stones right in front of me, routine – they were old and there was no one in them. final in them. And I look at her and think, “You know, this is the perfect shame, what can I do about it?”
I have it there [in my personal studio] There was an absolutely wonderful team, so I check with the manager of a personal studio if we were able to remove the frames from all the windows in which we could photograph a young woman in each window. So I asked my studio director to meet with the demolition officer, and he said, “Yeah, but you have to shoot my wife in every one of our shots!”
We had to do it on a new day, at noon, when the workers were having lunch in the personnel department. We have models, we have guests. They wore their own outfits, they were not considered stylish – it was a special occasion.
Actually, I’m on the second floor at the time of the escape – we had a few big fires while evacuating, we almost need a balcony or something – I’m there with my camera and lead. I had this megaphone and I freaked out when you finished, so I knew, “Don’t step on the ledge!” Because with brown stones, a special ledge that no one gets up on, they will definitely fall.
What kind of camera did the person use? And how many shots did she take to create the image we see today?
This was done with your 4×5 Speed Graphic, which I rarely used, with a wide angle lens. And I did, I think, 15 or 18 shots.
I get the feeling that not only the destroyer’s wife was included in the plan, but also yours?
Yes! My wife is the inner right side. If you run into the second courtyard, she is two years old in a soft pink outfit.
Girls in Windows: And More Stories by Ormond Gigli Now Available at PowerHouse Books
Girls, when it comes to windows, the 1960s is not just a concept of beauty, fashion combined with an ingenious orchestration of 43 women of the opposite sex standing at the window and high on the sidewalk, some boldly climbing onto the windowsills. It’s also part of the story, capturing a series of three classic New York brownstone houses that were demolished on the day of filming. Gigli, who lived across the street, wanted to commemorate the buildings, so he came up with a real photograph. His meticulous planning and staging resulted in a dramatic and unforgettable piece of art.
The richness of some photographs comes from the ability to appreciate them in different ways: and as a whole, as a caressing composition of color and form, shaped through window patterns, psychological figures and colorful clothes; or some of the spectators are attracted to explore it, it consists of different parts, each woman presents a different good point of interesting evidence (Giglia’s wife is in the second courtyard, far right, and the wife of the Overseer of Extermination is on the third floor, third from the left). This has been the inspiration for most of the recreations by other image creators in recent times.