PISTE DE RÉSISTANCE

There might have been fondue and furs rather than pools and pisco sours, but Slim Aarons was equally happy capturing the good life at 1,500 metres as he was in a tropical paradise. Stuart Husband takes a walk through the photographer’s winter wonderland…

A party of skiers adjourn for drinks at the bar on top of peak KT-22, Squaw Valley, California, 1961. Second from right is American lawyer and businessman Alexander Cochrane Cushing who developed the resort. (Photo by Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

“A girl can look sexier in ski clothes than in a bathing suit,” opined Fred Picard, the self-styled “international authority on glamour in the snow”, in those hoary, unreconstructed days of yore — 1957, to be precise. Picard was keen to cash in on the fact that skiing had outgrown its rarefied, even austere, beginnings, and had gone beguilingly mainstream. He was a Swiss skiwear designer who’d opened his own emporium in Sun Valley, Idaho — the premier American resort pioneered in the 1930s by businessman and diplomat W. Averell Harriman that attracted marquee names from Hollywood (Errol Flynn, Lucille Ball, even Marilyn Monroe) as well as the world’s best racers. Ski fashion — perhaps the ultimate blend of function and fashion, practicality and glamour — made a suitably stylish counterpoint to the pristine backdrops of Verbier, Zermatt or Sun Valley itself, of which Harriman said: “We didn’t run it to make money, we ran it to be a perfect place.” Picard certainly had an eye for perfection. Among his other aperçus: “The best way to hunt a husband is on skis” and, “A beautiful girl is never more radiant than when her cheeks are glowing and her eyes sparkling from healthful outdoor exercise at 10 below”.

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Stuart Husband

Published

February 2022

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