The French have a wonderful word: flâneur. Flâneur, according to Wikipedia, is the masculine noun for “stroller”, “lounger” or “saunterer” and refers to someone who walks through a city in order to really experience it. Ed and I were talking about our recent weekend city strolls – mine around Lincoln Park in Chicago and his down Bleecker Street in the West Village, New York City. He’s been fascinated with Bleecker Street between 7th and 8th Avenues for its homey West Village feel juxtaposed against some of fashion’s biggest brands. Marc Jacobs was the first fashion pioneer to open a store on the street in the 1990s, turning that stretch of street into one of the shopping destinations in New York. And when Sex and the City put Marc’s neighbor, Magnolia Bakery, on the national map, the street’s now flooded with locals and tourists alike.
In the 1970s, Ed freelanced at the Village Voice as a writer to help support his art. While there, he befriended legendary photographer, Lisette Model, a fine art photographer who had moved to New York City with her artist husband, Evsa Model, from Paris in 1938. For the first year and a half of Lisette’s time in New York, she didn’t take a single photo. She and her husband were so enthralled by New York that she chose to be a flâneur and absorb herself into the city and its culture before photographing it. Lisette soon met famed Art Director, Alexey Brodovitch, of Harper’s Bazaar. Then Editor, Carmel Snow, hired Brodovitch to work for her immediately after seeing a design show he curated for the Art Directors Club of New York. Brodovitch is still known for reinventing magazine design with his genius use of white space. He was also the first to hire fine art photographers for fashion features. Lisette Model started shooting for Bazaar, along with friends Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and Hiro, shortly after her arrival in New York. One of her assignments for Harper’s Bazaar was to photograph retail windows around New York. What came to be was one of Lisette’s most intriguing series, “Reflections.” In 1950, Lisette became a master teacher of photography at the New School. One of her most famous students who credited her for inspiring her photographic vision was Diane Arbus.
Lisette Model / Reflection With Hand, 1938-1945
Ed’s friendship with both Lisette and and her husband, Evsa, lasted until her passing in 1983. Inspired by his dear friend, Lisette, Ed recently walked Bleecker Street for On My Plate photographing shop windows, using street reflections to further tell his story. And he couldn’t help but snap some delicious cakes and treats inside Magnolia Bakery to wet our appetites! We hope these photos inspire you to be a flâneur.