Norman Parkinson's Century of Style: the best bits

As a retrospective of his work gets under way, we pick our favourite images by the father of modern fashion photography

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Corbis/© Norman Parkinson Ltd/Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive

Fashion models wear a variety of hats on the roof of the Conde Nast Building against a view of the New York skyline, 1949

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© Norman Parkinson Ltd/Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive

Katherine Pastrie modelling a Bernard Devaux Hat

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Corbis/© Norman Parkinson Ltd/Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive

David Bowie, 1977

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Corbis/© Norman Parkinson Ltd/Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive

Adele Collins wearing a red hat

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Corbis/© Norman Parkinson Ltd/Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive

Model Posing for British Vogue, 1951

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Corbis/© Norman Parkinson Ltd/Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive

Maggie Smith, 1970s

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Corbis/© Norman Parkinson Ltd/Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive

Model wearing a Legroux Soeurs Hat, 1952

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Corbis/© Norman Parkinson Ltd/Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive

Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall, 1981

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Corbis/© Norman Parkinson Ltd/Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive

Ava Gardner for Vogue, 1953

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Corbis/© Norman Parkinson Ltd/Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive

Norman Parkinson poses for a self-portrait for Esquire Magazine, 1985

'Any photographer who surrounds himself with a studio is doomed,' said Norman Parkinson, whose work is the subject of a very stylish retrospective at the National Theatre. Parkinson was the man who shook the dust off staid fashion photography by placing his models in, for the time, unlikely settings.

Parkinson's 'Century of Style' exhibition reveals how, from his early work in the 1930s until his death in 1990, Parkinson pioneered many of the things we're used to seeing in the glossy magazine shoots today – like exotic locations and odd props. 'I like to make people look as good as they'd like to look, and with luck, a shade better,' Parkinson said. We say 'hats off to him'.

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