The Replacement Girl: A Life in 24 Frames

By John-Michael O'Sullivan

A biography of Barbara Mullen, one of the twentieth century's great fashion models

Biography | Lifestyle
102% funded
121 supporters
Writing in progress

Publication date: TBC

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The crowd has spoken – The Replacement Girl: A Life in 24 Frames is happening. Pre-order your reward now.
$40  + shipping
49 pledges

FIRST EDITION

A hardback first edition of Barbara Mullen’s biography. At all pledge levels, supporters’ names will be featured in the book’s acknowledgments pages.
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$50  + shipping
43 pledges

UNSEEN EDITION

A special edition of the biography, featuring an extra 24 images which focus on the behind-the-scenes world of fashion modelling. Drawn from Barbara Mullen’s archive, these include contact sheets, outtakes and unpublished alternates by William Klein, Milton Greene and Richard Avedon, as well as a number of personal photographs.
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$65  + shipping
2 pledges

RESEARCH EDITION

As part of the research process for the book, we’ve been sharing the stories of Barbara Mullen’s contemporaries on Instagram and Facebook. So if there’s ever been a model you’ve wanted to know more about, simply get in contact with a name - and we’ll do the rest!
This pledge level includes three hours of research on your chosen model, emailed to you in the format of your choice, a hardback First Edition of the book, and your name in the back of the book.
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$70  + shipping
5 pledges

TWO FIRST EDITIONS

Two hardback first editions, sent to a single address. For three or more copies, please contact Unbound.
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$75  + shipping
4 pledges

BARBARA'S BAZAR EDITION

Barbara Mullen didn’t have any ordinary retirement; instead, she opened a fashion boutique in Klosters, just as the resort embarked on its jet-set heyday. Frequented by royalty and movie stars, Barbara’s Bazar was one of the first stores to champion designers like Sonia Rykiel, Emanuel Ungaro and Kenzo. To celebrate her biography, Unbound are producing a limited-edition fine art print of the boutique’s playful advertising poster, starring Barbara (and her Vidal Sassoon bob) as drawn by illustrator Gail Kernan. Subscribers will also receive a hardback first edition of The Replacement Girl and their name in the back.
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$90  + shipping
18 pledges

TWO UNSEEN EDITIONS

Two hardback copies of the book’s Unseen edition, sent to a single address. For three or more copies, please contact Unbound.
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$250  + shipping
5 pledges

24 FRAMES

The biography will be anchored by 24 images of Barbara, taken by some of the twentieth century’s greatest fashion photographers. They include photographs by Guy Bourdin, Lillian Bassman, Norman Parkinson, Irving Penn. This pledge level offers supporters the opportunity to sponsor one of these images; they will also be invited to the book launch event and exhibition in London and each supporter will receive a signed copy of the book’s Unseen edition.
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$1,250  + shipping

PATRON

Patrons will receive invitations to the book launch event and exhibition in London and be given one-on-one tours through Barbara Mullen’s unique archive, which features unseen images by some of the greatest fashion photographers of the century. Patrons will also receive a signed copy of the book’s Unseen edition and will be thanked in the acknowledgments.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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Every person who pledges to help to make a book gets their name included in a supporter section as a thank you as long as they pledge before the list closing deadline. If you want to add a different name, this can be changed in your account after you have completed your pledge.

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Book designs, cover and other images are for illustrative purposes and may differ from final design.

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Every picture tells a story. And fashion, a world defined largely through pictures, has millions of stories to tell. But we rarely look beyond the beauty of the fashion image itself to consider what lies hidden behind.

When Barbara Mullen was born in Jazz Age Harlem, the profession of fashion modelling had barely begun. But by the time she’d graduated from high school, it was booming. Starting out as a department store mannequin in wartime New York, she would become one of the most successful models in the world. And then, after a series of personal tragedies and scandals, she disappeared from sight.

Today, Mullen exists largely through a series of extraordinary pictures, shot by some of the greatest photographers of the twentieth century; Richard Avedon, Guy Bourdin, Lillian Bassman, Norman Parkinson, William Klein, Horst, Irving Penn. Taken all over the world (Peru, Paris, India, Mexico, Sicily, New York) they tell fashion’s story in one of its most vital decades, as it transformed from an elite, luxury pursuit into a global mass-market phenomenon. Lillian Bassman labelled Mullen ‘the replacement girl’ — a last-minute stand-in for a 1948 photoshoot, who stunned the photographer with her ability to transform for the camera’s gaze. And that chameleon-like quality would allow Mullen to adapt and survive as notions of fashion and beauty themselves transformed across the Fifties, from Dior’s frothy New Look romance to the slick, graphic style of rising stars such as Cardin and Givenchy.

But what was it like to be a model then, at a time when editors such as Diana Vreeland, Bettina Ballard and Carmel Snow ruled the fashion world; a time when Madison Avenue’s Mad Men were conjuring up campaigns that needed spectacular, audacious images; a time when the designers and photographers we now venerate as gods were just inexperienced youngsters; a time when women weren’t expected to have careers (and certainly not ones which saw them become better-paid than most men); a time when models were expected to be their own stylists, hair and make-up artists, and luggage carriers; a time when you could be on the cover of every fashion magazine on a Manhattan newsstand, without anyone ever knowing your name?

Today, we live in a world where models can be superstars; thanks to social media, they now have the power to create their own images, and tell their own stories. But the voices of the women who founded and shaped the industry have largely gone unheard. Barbara Mullen’s biography offers a chance to examine modern fashion and beauty from the other side of the lens, through the eyes of one of that pioneering generation’s last survivors.

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Quick select rewards

$40  + shipping
49 pledges

FIRST EDITION

A hardback first edition of Barbara Mullen’s biography. At all pledge levels, supporters’ names will be featured in the book’s acknowledgments pages.
Choose this reward
$50  + shipping
43 pledges

UNSEEN EDITION

A special edition of the biography, featuring an extra 24 images which focus on the behind-the-scenes world of fashion modelling. Drawn from Barbara Mullen’s archive, these include contact sheets, outtakes and unpublished alternates by William Klein, Milton Greene and Richard Avedon, as well as a number of personal photographs.
Choose this reward