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Lisa Fonssagrives
Birth name Lisa Bernstone
Date of birth May 4, 1911(1911-05-04)
Place of birth Uddevalla, Sweden
Date of death April 2, 1992 (aged 80)
Place of death New York
Occupation Supermodel
Spouse(s) Fernand Fonssagrives
Irving Penn

Lisa Fonssagrives (May 17, 1911 – February 4, 1992), born Lisa Bernstone in Sweden, was a fashion model credited by some as the first supermodel.[1]

Her image appeared on the cover of many magazines during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, from Town & Country, Life, and the original Vanity Fair. She moved from Sweden to Paris to train for ballet.[2] Fonssagrives once described herself as a "good clothes hanger".[1]

She worked with fashion photographers including George Hoyningen-Huene, Man Ray, Horst, Erwin Blumenfeld, George Platt Lynes, Richard Avedon, and Edgar de Evia. She married Parisian photographer Fernand Fonssagrives in 1935; they divorced and she later married another photographer, Irving Penn, in 1950.

Fonssagrives died at the age of 80, survived by her second husband and her two children: daughter Mia Fonssagrives-Solow, a costume designer, and her son, Tom Penn, a designer.[2]


  1. ^ a b Rosemary Ranck, "The First Supermodel", The New York Times February 9, 1997 online retrieved September 24, 2006
  2. ^ a b Anne-Marie Schiro, " Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, 80, Artist Who Gave Up Career as a Model", The New York Times February 6, 1992 online retrieved March 6, 2008


  • Gross, Michael: Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women, New York: W. Morrow, 1995, ISBN 0-688-12659-6
  • Seidner, David (ed): Lisa Fonssagrives: Three Decades of Classic Fashion Photography, New York: Vendome Press, 1996, ISBN 0-86565-978-8

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