Xerjoff Magazine

Douglas Kirkland: Coco and Marilyn, two myths compared


An exhibition taking place in Biella compares two icons of cinema and fashion: Marilyn Monroe and Coco Chanel portrayed during the '60s by the Canadian photographer Douglas Kirkland.

Two great icons of beauty and style -portrayed by the legendary photographer Douglas Kirkland– are the focus of an exhibition taking place at Palazzo Gromo Losa in Biella (Corso del Piazzo, 22/24). We are referring to Marilyn Monroe and Coco Chanel, the absolute protagonists of the exhibition entitled “Coco + Marilyn. Biella at the center of MI-TO”. Born in Canada, Kirkland took his first steps in the world of photography as an assistant to Irving Penn, then he worked for the prestigious Life magazine and during his long career he has photographed more than 600 celebrities in addition to having worked as a set photographer on the sets of over 150 films and colossals. His portraits of Monroe and Chanel date back to the early 1960s when he was working for Look magazine and photography was taking on an increasingly prominent role as a medium in society.

“These two extraordinary women -explains the photographer who still remembers those days with great emotion- were two icons of an era. They understood the great power of photography and the influence that their portraits could exert. Marilyn was a sex symbol that aroused the desire of an entire generation of men and made sexuality finally playful and free. Coco, on the other hand, gave freedom to generations of women by making them wear pants, emancipating them through elegant and refined fashion, and thus making them aware that their success did not have to depend on men.”

“Coco + Marilyn. Biella at the center of MI-TO “, arrives in Biella after stopping in Budapest and Helsinki, and it collects over one hundred shots. It will be open until next September 12th. The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of events that will animate the city of Biella, including “Ricucire il futuro” (Mending the future), which will display sketches and dresses inspired by the values of Chanel’s fashion and the themes of sustainability created by the students of ITS TAM at the Spazio Cultura in the Piedmontese capital.

Above: Marilyn Monroe by Douglas Kirkland, early ’60