Fashion was an area of the photography industry which Stafford found to be more accessible to women during her working life so she turned her lens to both Haute Couture and Prêt-à-Porter over three decades from the 1950s – 1980s.
Society women of wealth in pre-WW2 France had their clothes made to measure in Paris’ famous designer Maisons de Couture. Ready-to-Wear or Prêt-à-Porter was not fashionable until after WW2 when Haute Couture was challenged by new young designers and clothing manufacturers in the late 1950s. It caught on and by the 1970s Haute Couture designers were opening their own Boutiques selling designer “Off the Peg” fashion.
Most fashion photographs in the 1950s were taken in a studio or in elegant venues. Stafford preferred to take the models onto her beloved streets of Paris. People didn’t walk around with cameras at that time, especially women, so this was quite an unusual thing to do and attracted quite a lot of attention.
She came to London in the mid-1960s to find that British Fashion was somewhat bi-polar. It spanned from conservative and restrained to become its exact opposite by the late ‘60s and ‘70s… flamboyant, brightly coloured and led by the mini-skirt. London became a centre for fashion where the motto might have been: ‘Anything Goes’.