Penn’s photographs have memorialized personalities such as Charles James (top) and Elsa Schiaparelli (bottom)— two fashion designers, who, in the early 20th century, were considered some of the best in their field. It was perhaps to poke fun at the enigma of fame, and certainly to disrupt it, that photographer Irving Penn would place his most famous subjects in a narrow corner to have their portraits taken. The prop was simple in its contrivance, just two studio flats arranged at a sharply acute angle, but it sufficed to recast his famous subjects in a less complacent light. There they would stay, these celebrated men and women, until they showed us something new. Many believe that Penn, along with his rival, Richard Avedon, elevated fashion photography to the status of fine art in the public eye. But Penn himself remained worried about the distinction. He threw himself into private work whenever he could—still lifes, anthropological photography (he would haul a portable studio into the field), the famous midsection nudes. Anything to prove that he wasn’t limited to the Apollonian perfection of his corporate and magazine work. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Twenty-Four Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 19 Going Incognito We all secretly wonder what mischief we’d make if invisible: When our identity is hidden, everything seems possible. Arts & Culture Issue 19 The Best Policy Sometimes we talk to each other without feeling heard. Honesty—a most intimate interaction—can be just as thrilling as its more devious inverse. Arts & Culture Issue 19 A Sense of Suspense With unhinged imaginations and mountains of cliff-hangers, the filmmakers behind the sci-fi podcast Limetown have all the makings of a scary story. Arts & Culture Issue 19 Like Clockwork In this new column about time, we learn how slipping off our watches makes us feel like deadline-damning renegades. Fashion Issue 19 The Heat of the Moment Wide eyes, tense muscles, goose-bumped skin and sweat-dotted brows. Fashion Issue 19 This Tall to Ride Amusement parks offer us a taste of danger as sweet as cotton candy.