Tag Archives: China Relief

September 8, 2012 — Fashion Photos Discovered

Late tonight I am putting off writ­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion for upcom­ing Octo­ber events and brows­ing the won­der­ful pho­tos of Li Ling-Ai that Soft­film blog­ger Duri­an Dave dis­cov­ered in the LIFE pho­to archives.  These are all of a Unit­ed Chi­na Relief Fash­ion show in May 1941 and tak­en by Alfred Eisen­stadt (note KUKAN would pre­miere the fol­low­ing month in NYC — it must have been a heady time for Li Ling-Ai).

Photo of Li Ling-Ai at May 1941 fashion show for United China Relief

Li LIng-Ai mod­els tra­di­tion­al Chi­nese robe at May 1941 fash­ion show for Unit­ed Chi­na Relief.

 

Li Ling-Ai models Chinese gown for United China Relief fundraiser in 1941

Li Ling-Ai was one of the few Chi­nese mod­els at the fash­ion show.

 

Crowd view of the May 1941 fashion show for United China Relief

Crowd view of the fash­ion show helps pin­point the loca­tion.

I love see­ing this crowd shot of all the NYC socialites wear­ing their hats.  While view­ing these pho­tos, a bell rang in my head and I remem­bered some of my research at the Colum­bia Rare Book and Man­u­script Library.  A fash­ion show had been held at the Hotel Pierre.  Sure enough, I com­pared a cur­rent pho­to of the pent­house ball­room and the arch­ways are the same.  I got chills remem­ber­ing that I had been to a wed­ding at that same spot back in the 90’s.

Penthouse ballroom at the Hotel Pierre

The 3,500 square-foot dou­ble height ball­room today, pho­to from NYTimes online

 

I had no idea that Li Ling-Ai par­tic­i­pat­ed in the fash­ion show when I took those notes at Colum­bia a cou­ple of years ago.

Publicity photo of Li Ling-Ai, with K.T. Stevens, James Blaine, Lee Ya Ching, and unidentified Chinese woman

Li Ling-Ai, with actress K.T. Stevens, James Blaine, Lee Ya Ching, and uniden­ti­fied Chi­nese woman

Li LIng-Ai is seen here pos­ing with James Blaine, nation­al chair­man of Unit­ed Chi­na Relief and the pres­i­dent of Marine Mid­land Trust.  He was just one of the NYC CEOs that Hen­ry Luce recruit­ed to lead the huge fundrais­ing effort to aid Chi­na pri­or to WWII.

Li Ling-Ai posing for publicity photo at United China Relief fundraiser

Li Ling-Ai pos­ing for pub­lic­i­ty pho­to at Unit­ed Chi­na Relief fundrais­er

These pho­tos  bring this 1941 event to life for me in a whole new way.  How­ev­er, LIFE pho­tographs are noto­ri­ous­ly expen­sive to license.  So if I’m going to use them in the doc­u­men­tary, I’m going to have to have a fundrais­er myself.  Speak­ing of which… Be on the look­out for our Kick­starter launch in Octo­ber, and if you’re in Hon­olu­lu on Octo­ber 28, come to our “Night in Old Shang­hai” cock­tail par­ty ben­e­fit where we will pay homage to the efforts of these 1941 fash­ion­ista fundrais­ers.

Chinese inspired fashion in 1941

Chi­nese inspired fash­ion in 1941

Chinese inspired fashion in 1941

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