Deborah Turbeville: Phantasmagoria


Born on 6th July 1932 in Stoneham, Massachusetts. As a young woman, she moved to New York. There she found work as an assistant and sample model for Claire McCardell. In time she raised through the the ranks to editorial for both ‘Mademoiselle’ and ‘Harper’s Bazaar’. However, this career path was not meant for Turbeville. Having previously has no experience behind the lenses. Turbeville took a 6 month intensive photography course with Richard Avedon. What a great teacher.

Thanks in part to her talent and her connections in the fashion industry, Turbeville had no trouble finding publications to showcase her vision. American, British, Russian, French and Italian Vogue magazine. L’Uomo Vogue, New York Times Magazine and Zoom. Plus her former employers Harper’s Bazaar.

Though a contemporary of Helmut Newton, Turbeville’s style was less clean lines, pristine and brightly lit. Before Turbeville, fashion photography was more ‘safe’. Classic preening poses, more obviously selling a product or a concept. Turbeville’s approach was more dark, focusing on decay and a profound sense of haunting. Interestingly, Turbeville it not always have her subjects as the main focus. Often the buildings and scenery were so beautiful in their brooding and melancholy. Less advertisements more Avant Garde. Other than the aforementioned Newton and Guy Bordin, Turbeville was one of Holy Trinity of fashion photographers that could really shock. Shake the world of haute couture upside down, inside out and challenged what was considered beautiful. Very similar in style of Irina Ionesco.

Her books included ‘Wallflower’ in 1978, ‘Studio St.Petersberg’ (1997) and ‘Casa No Name’ (2009). A more general collection of fashion images in 2011.

Turbeville finally left this mortal coil on 24th October 2013 aged 81. What an illustrious legacy

DT veil

DT grande decay

Deborah Turbeville duo


breath me





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