Summer in the City explores what summer means to us around the world.
Speedboats race across the azure water or float languidly next to others in the marina; glamorous, bikini-clad women sunbathe on the beach, eyes hidden behind oversize sunglasses; a man on a moped drives down a sun-dappled, cobbled St Tropez street. In photographer Slim Aarons’s pictures, the sky is always blue.
The latest Fashion Eye book from Éditions Louis Vuitton, the French fashion house’s publishing arm, presents the cult photographer’s shots of the Côte d’Azur as a celebration of the south of France on the 50th anniversary of photography festival Rencontres d’Arles. Seen through Aarons’s lens, the French Riviera from the 1950s to the ’80s is the epitome of elegance and laissez-faire, the photos evoking the feel of a bygone era.
New York-born George Allen Aarons earned the nickname “Slim” because of his lanky build, and he got access to “attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places” (Aarons’s own description of his work) because of his reputation as an “anti-paparazzi.” Early in his career, Aarons worked as an army photographer. He turned from war photography to glamorous and intimate portraits of the crème de la crème – movie stars, aristocrats, socialites – and it’s those photos that have stood the test of time and still fascinate viewers today.
Aarons staged his photographs of celebrities and the rich and famous meticulously, but in these Riviera photos, from storied places like Monaco, Antibes, Cannes and more, the settings take centre stage; you can almost feel the sand between your toes. And while the French Riviera is still an attractive destination today, there’s an elusive perfection to his postcard-like photos that can’t be replicated – an unhurried, luxurious holiday feel that’ll make you long for summers past.
Culture Trip’s Summer in the City explores what summer means to us around the world. Discover, among other delights, unlikely summer retreats, US state fairs, the great British seaside and how to re-create an Italian Job-style road trip.