I received the most exquisite Christmas gift today from a very dear friend. In fact this dear friend is someone I taught many, many years ago. A courier arrived at 4 Goodwin’s Court with a large envelope and in it was a beautifully wrapped John French photography 2012 calendar from the V&A.

The discussion in the MSL team was not about where to hang the calendar but more about which photograph of the 12 iconic images was the favourite. We couldn’t get consensus on whether it was of Jean Shrimpton modelling jewellery 1963, Tania Mallet wearing an ostrich feather hat 1963, Pattie Boyd wearing an evening gown 1960s, Nina Ricci dress 1963 or Yves Saint Laurent velvet smock suit and hat 1962.

We reached an agreement. Each person would select their favourite photographs and then we would display the calendar using our first names in alphabetical order. I know this sounds a bit complex but what we will see in January is August! To some this might defeat the purpose of a calendar. At MSL it is yet another example of how we are design-led.

And for those of you who need reminding about John French we learn from the calendar “that he studied painting in Paris and took up photography when he returned to London in 1937. He set up a photographic studio in 1948 and over the next two decades was responsible for bringing the neglected art of fashion photography into vogue. John French introduced the technique of bouncing natural light on to his subjects to produce beautifully lit settings for models and haute couture clothes.”

So come January at MSL, we will have each month with a statement of elegance; each month a picture of beauty; and each month out of order.

Maggie Semple

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