Filmmaker John McKay reveals the thorough efforts taken to recreate seminal shots from David Bailey’s legendary 1962 trip to New York with Jean Shrimpton for his upcoming drama We’ll Take Manhattan premièring tomorrow night on BBC4.
The film explores the self-indulgent love affair between the iconic photographer and Sixties supermodel during a seismic British Vogue fashion shoot. "She's a one-off," says Bailey of the precocious 19-year-old Shrimpton, who was almost completely unknown at the time. Strict orders from Fashion Editor Lady Clare Rendlesham were to shoot mid-priced British clothes against Upper Manhattan’s elegant landmarks. Bailey, embraced his love of street life to prowl the city’s grittier environments armed with just one camera and an old teddy bear. The series captured the new liberated spirit of the decade and became the stuff of fashion legend when it was published as a 14-page editorial in the April 1962 edition of British Vogue.
"The key thing with biographical material is to get away from the "birth to death" model,” says McKay. “Luckily, Bailey and Jean's trip to New York provided an ideal vertical slice into their love affair, the dawn of the Sixties, fashion, photography, class conflict and sexual politics."
We’ll Take Manhattan airs on BBC4 tomorrow evening at 9pm, a must-see.