The Nostalgic Beauty of Barbara Mullen


Barbara Mullen...what a face,

what a body, and those poses? For the love of nostalgic fashion, I have followed some of the most beautiful models over the years mostly as a hobby, but then again, for the love of vintage fashion and the women who wore the clothes.

I remember directing several fashion shows in small towns in California and training all the potential models to pose like the tall lanky models I had seen in movies such as; Funny Face with the lovely Dovima modeling in a book store wearing a tight black number and long black gloves    making an attempt to get the correct facial expression and poses the photographer needed for the perfect shot, as well as the models that graced the pages of vintage fashion magazines that I had the few  opportunities to enjoy from time to time, but couldn’t get my hands on often enough.

This encouraged me to start a collection of old Conde’ Nast Vogue, Harpers Bizarre and Look fashion magazines. Especially the ones that featured Barbara Mullen    either on the cover or the inside pages of some of the most popular fashion and lifestyle magazines of that era.

So my search began, and although it was tough, I found several woman who had saved and stashed their beautifully aged, Vogue, Harpers Bizarre, Look fashionmagazines in big boxes up in the attic where spiders lived.

 I was in luck. And there was Barbara Mullen, tall, skinny and beautifully unique staring back at me, in the tarnished torn yellowed pages of the old coffee stained fashion magazines.

I no longer have my collection, but my love for vintage fashion and the models that gave us visual beauty with their unique poses and style quality, still lives on in my heart.

Ava Rayke



Barbara Mullen was photographed by Lillian Bassman more than any photographer in the ‘1950s



In 1955 making more money (approximately $60,000) than the average United States annually Barbara Mullen was photographed by Lillian Bassman more than any photographer in the ‘1950s

Mullen along with models Tripp, Dovima and Patchett, graced the cover of Photography Magazine-baring the headline “World’s Most Expensive Models”



"From a foul mouthed brat to one of Eileen and Jerry Ford’s best model recruits"



Barbara Mullen worked as a hairdresser in a beauty parlor and one day found herself picked to model as a mannequin in the department store window at Bergdorf Goodman in 1947. That opened up the door for her to model a dress that fit only her tiny waistline for Conde’ Nast fashion photographer, John Rawlings. 

While Barbara was never really considered the ideal model, having a very long neck, small pouty lips and extremely long thin frame, she became one of the most photographed models of the 1950s.