Melvin Sokolsky’s ‘Bubble’: An Iconic 1960s Fashion Moment


Melvin Sokolsky began his career at Harper’s Bazaar, after being recruited by the prolific art director, Henry Wolf, at the age of twenty-one. It was for this publication that he produced his most iconic and inventive series in 1963. Known as the Bubble series, the images depict models floating in giant clear plastic bubbles, apparently suspended in mid-air over streets in Paris. Sokolsky’s innovative series anticipated the change of language that was to later emerge in fashion photography. The series combines surrealism and the world of high fashion, with a nod to the increasing popularity of street photography.

For his famous 1963 Bubble series, Melvin Sokolsky was inspired by a detail from Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, in which a couple appear to be trapped in a bubble emerging from the earth below. Determined to bring this evocative image into reality, Sokolsky set himself the task of building his very own ‘bubble’. It was produced in ten days using Plexiglass and aircraft aluminium, and the design was based on that of a Fabergé Egg. Suspended by an eight-inch aircraft cable, the ‘bubble’ was hoisted above street scenes in Parisian villages and suspended above the Seine, with Sokolsky’s favourite model, Simone d’Aillencourt, encased within.

Sokolsky is now celebrated as an important pioneer of illusory fashion photography. He has worked for Vogue and The New York Times, as well as Harper’s Bazaar. He also photographed the entire editorial content of McCall’s Magazine, which was a first for its time. Sokolsky has been awarded twenty-five Clio Awards for his work in the field of advertising. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

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