Fred Maroon, ‘The Colorado River in the Grand Canyon’, 1970, Artist's Proof

A dramatic look based on traditional Indian body paintings, with matching face and feathers.
"In 1970 the Italian designer Giorgio di Sant' Angelo designed a collection of fashions inspired by American Indian body painting. A year earlier I had been on a raft trip down the Colorado River with the then Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, and his family. We had shot 125 rapids, and when I wasn't being scared out of my wits, I was being overwhelmed by the spectacular scenery. It struck me as the perfect setting for photographing fashions, and I suggested the idea to the editors of LOOK Magazine. Jo Segal, the fashion editor, liked the idea and suggested using Giorgio's fashions. She arranged for Giorgio and his assistant to accompany us on the trip.

As we made our way down the river by raft, shooting increasingly challenging rapids, I would scan the banks for possible locations where we could camp and get two photographs - one in the evening and another the next morning. This was not as easy as it sounds, as decisions had to be made quickly and were usually irreversible; you don't make many U-turns on a raft on the Colorado River. After we beached our raft each day, the boatman and his wife would make camp and start to prepare a meal, while Giorgio and Jo Segal got the model ready for the first shot. The colors of the walls of the canyon change constantly - reds, oranges, browns and golds. In places a black rock called schist is exposed; it retains heat so efficiently that our poor model almost fainted and fell straight into the river when we had her stand up against an outcropping of schist for a photograph. It all added up to the perfect backdrop for Giorgio's Indian designs; as wild as they were, they looked quite at home in this wilderness.

Giorgio, for his part, was captivated. He would gesture expansively at the towering walls of the canyon surrounding us, and exclaim to one and all: 'Look at this place! You can take all of Europe, with its palaces and cathedrals, put them all together, and it cannot compare with what God has created here!'" - Fred Maroon

Series: Fashions in the Grand Canyon 1970

Image rights: © Fred J. Maroon

About Fred Maroon

American, September 24, 1924 - November 5, 2001, New Brunswick, New Jersey, based in Washington, DC, United States