Obsessions

Tales from the Arrowsmith Archives. The beautiful Anabella Corro in 1920s chic

The lens of Clive Arrowsmith has seen it all. He is a photographic legend and something of a fashion troubadour. We continue our journey into the Arrowsmith Archives with a story about Anabella Corro, 1920s chic and a Beverley Hills taxi ride.

Words and Photography CLIVE ARROWSMITH

Ritz Newspaper asked me to photograph a selection of stunning 1920s jewelled dresses. Somehow the stylist (forgive me I have forgotten her name) discovered this beautiful collection of dresses and ephemera which we only had for 24 hours.

I had been at Vogue House one afternoon in Hanover Square printing some images in the dark room, when reception called to say that there was “a beautiful raven haired Mexican model who had come to see you.” I said I couldn’t come down I am right in the middle of printing and thought nothing more of it. Twenty minutes later the receptionist called again and said “She won’t go away and she insists on waiting for you.”

I was leaving anyway and I just went downstairs and walked through reception. I was just about to walk through door into the street when this husky Latino voice called out after me “Clive, at last”, which made me laugh. At last? I thought and turned around, having completely forgotten anyone was waiting for me and there was Anabella – a complete vision. She handed me her portfolio and I must confess I barely looked at it I was so struck by how beautiful she was, with the most engaging flashing eyes. I knew then I had to take her picture.

"She handed me her portfolio and I must confess I barely looked at it I was so struck by how beautiful she was, with the most engaging flashing eyes. I knew then I had to take her picture."

The day before I had done a huge casting and had seen almost 200 beautiful women, I think most men would think this was a wonderful job to do but I was not feeling it. I’d gone home that evening and said to my then wife Rosemary’ “I’m sick of looking at beautiful women” to which she replied laughing ‘ “You will never tire of looking at beautiful women.” That said castings are very tiring, because you only find one of two girls that are really outstanding, such is the game of modelling.

I said to Anabella, “I must photograph you, I just need to get the right clothes and situation.” I didn’t have to wait long as the next day I got a call for David Litchfield (Editor of Ritz) who told me about the beautiful collection of dresses.

Two days later, myself and my team shot these images which are still so classically glamourous. As soon as I saw Anabella in the first dress I realised she was the most elegant and statuesque woman. We worked quite silently, just the very slightest of movements as the dresses were so heavy with the beads etc. Anabella just new how to move effortlessly in these incredible 1920s gowns. What made it so delightful for me is the combination of Anabella’s classic form and the beautiful dresses.

A few years later I was staying with my friend Peter Morton at his house in Beverley Hills. While I was there someone said “I just saw Anabella Corro in town.” I said to them that I would love to see her and through word of mouth and a few phone calls we ended up having dinner at Morton’s in LA.

After dinner we took a cab up to Peter’s house for a night cap, the taxi driver drove very recklessly around Beverley Hills, screeching around sharp bends and Anabella said “Slow down” and started shouting at him. The cab driver stopped abruptly, pulled out a gun and announced that “he’d just shot himself up with Meth and he couldn’t stand any more shouting”

We both instantaneously became extremely quiet and slowly got out of the cab, I threw a handful of cash into the cab and we got out. We said nothing as the driver got back into the taxi and drove away with the dust flying behind him in the dry heat. We walked up the hill in complete shock and silence and sat by the pool and said, “What was that about”. I woke up the next morning in a deck chair by the pool with the morning sun stinging my eyes and the adorable Anabella had gone. I will always be grateful to Anabella for the way she posed and carried herself in these images and we are still in touch.