Duffy never intended becoming a photographer. Studying dress design at Saint Martins College of Art, Duffy pursued brief stints in fashion design and illustration before turning his hand to photography in the late 1950s. Cutting his teeth as fourth assistant to Adrian Flowers, Duffy picked up his first commission from the Sunday Times in 1957, the year that he started at Vogue. Quickly becoming a Vogue favorite, Duffy’s avant-garde style was instrumental in pushing the formerly society-led magazine to remain relevant as the teenage revolution ensued.
“Duffy was a commercial photographer, a picture-maker for paying clients in the worlds of fashion, marketing and the print media….An anarchic, abrasive, provocative young talent in 60s London who precisely sensed the seismic shifts in British culture that could allow him to invent himself as one of the most successful of a new breed of fashionable photographers.” – Philippe Garner, International Head of Photography, Christie’s Duffy ushered in a new style of documentary fashion photography alongside his ‘Black Trinity’ contemporaries David Bailey and Terence Donovan. Together they pushed aside the stuffy conservatism of the fifties in favour of a more innovative and energetic approach that perfectly fitted post-war ‘swinging London’. By 1961 Duffy started working for French Elle, where he believes he did his best work. Inspired by a culture that encouraged experimentation and subversion, Duffy remained working with Elle for nearly 20 years, alongside many other publications around the world. A selection of Duffy’s editorial work will be included in the exhibition, including the controversial Nova magazine shoot with Amanda Lear.
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