Slim Aarons is a name synonymous with style, elegance, and class. You may have seen several of his portrait subjects in the display cases in our shop dressed with Quirk jewelry or maybe you’ve thumbed through a few of the Aarons books we’ve had on our shelves. We love the quality of light and color used in his photographs and the way he captures a lifestyle most of us can only dream about: truly care-free, opulent, indulgent, and sometimes completely over-the-top.
George Allen Aarons (nicknamed “Slim” because of his trim 6 ft. 4 in. frame) began his career as a military photographer at West Point and then in combat during WWII. After his service, Aarons moved to California and began shooting pictures for Life, Holiday, Town & Country, Vogue, Travel & Leisure, Harper’s Bazaar and other popular magazines of the day. On his transition as a photographer of soldiers at war to celebrities and poolside beauties, Slim said, “I let it be known that the only beach I was interested in landing on was one decorated with beautiful, seminude girls tanning in tranquil sun.”
Aarons’ images do give us a glimpse into how “the other half” lives. In his own words, Slim made a career of “photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places.” The lives of jet-setters and globe-trotters, socialites and movie stars, gangsters and aristocrats—they’re lives we’ve all fantasized about at one point or another and all set against the backdrop of the world’s most beautiful places. There are photos from far-off locales like Monaco, Nice, Cannes, St. Tropez, Courchevel, Verbier, Gstaad, Venice, Tuscany, Capri, Kenya, and Ibiza as well as state-side paradises like Palm Beach, Aspen, Beverly Hills, and Palm Springs. These photographs have a broader appeal too. We don’t just like them because they represent the lifestyles of the rich and powerful or the ultimate fantasy. Aarons’ pictures are taken at a time when people took great care to look their very best no matter what they were doing. Appearance and presentation were always of the utmost importance whether sitting by the pool, having a picnic, dining out at a restaurant, or taking a walk through a garden. Going from one point to another wasn’t a chore or a means to an end. There was an art to it all, a finesse to it. It was an excuse to wear a different outfit, don a specific pair of shoes, show off your luggage. Traveling, vacationing, and relaxing were things that were truly special and it didn’t matter who you were or where you went. The people and places in Aarons’ portfolio just happen to be pushing those ideas and notions to the hilt and Slim was there to capture it all on film. “He brought to his portraits of them a freshness, a directness, and a certain elan that his subjects appreciated. He could be relied upon to make them look good. And he was nice to have around….Without a stylist or makeup artist and using only the available light, Slim portrayed them as they would present themselves” (from Slim Aarons: A Place In The Sun).