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  • “Jean Shrimpton With Radish”, 1967. Photo by William Helburn.

  • “If You Can’t Go South Go Borg”, Jean Shrimpton, Wall Street, Borgana, 1964. For Douglas Simon. Photo by William Helburn.

  • “The Skirt’s the Thing”, Carmen Dell’Orefice and Betsy Pickering, First Avenue and 23rd Street, Harper’s Bazaar, 1958. Photo by William Helburn.


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William Helburn’s Mid-Century Fashion and Advertising Photography book

A new book by Thames & Hudson explores the amazing work of William Helburn, the celebrated photographer that revolutionized the advertising business of the 50s and 60s. Helburn had an enormous capacity to create evocative images that didn’t leave anyone indifferent, and his boundless creativity and unique sense of humor made him famous among the top advertising agencies of New York. He shot innumerous advertising campaigns for a wide variety of products, from clothing lines, jewelry, cigars and cigarettes to alcoholic beverages and airlines. He collaborated with the most sought after models of his time, including Dovima, Dorian Leigh, Jean Patchett, Barbara Mullen, Jean Shrimpton and Lauren Hutton, and his work also appeared on the editorial pages and covers of iconic magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, Life, Esquire, Town & Country, McCall’s and Charm.

Helburn was born in New York and started experimenting with photography as soon as he came back home after serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. An encounter with the work of legendary photographer Fernand Fonssagrives made him take interest in fashion photography and he soon began to shoot newcomer models like Grace Kelly and Tippi Hedren while studying graphic design at the Design Laboratory of renowned art director Alexey Brodovitch. Helburn was always on the lookout for the most impressive image, spending many hours in order to prepare all the details of his sets with meticulous care. “I tried to always, always, always do something a little different. I would put a girl on a couch in Times Square – put it in the middle of the avenue there. I would take girls out in the middle of a snowstorm naked under a fur coat and have them strip naked in the middle of a street – and do a shot. Shock value was a term that was used. And I meant to shock people as much as I could,” he has said in a past interview. During his long career, Helburn won various advertising and design awards and continued making photos and television commercials until the beginning of the 90’s.

“William Helburn: Seventh and Madison” features a variety of images that have not been seen since the very first time they were published, seeking to reveal the reality behind the New York advertising agencies of the 60s that is so famously depicted in “Mad Men”. Written by journalist Robert Lilly and featuring contributions of former colleagues Jerry Schatzberg, George Lois, Sunny Griffin and Ali McGraw, the book intends to cast a light on the life and career of the 90-year-old photographer that defined a whole era, paying tribute to the never aging beauty of his unforgettable images.