Through the second half of the 20th century, Fred Maroon did a series of eight fashion stories between 1960 and 1970 in remote and challenging locations for Look Magazine in Mongolia, Afghanistan, Eygpt, Russia, and Japan.
Afghanistan 1968 for LOOK Magazine
"With 'Cashmere in Mongolia' and 'Furs in Russia' under our belt, a story shot anywhere in the world seemed within the range of the possible, provided that the idea was a valid one. What to do next in the series that Allen Hurlburt, the art director at LOOK Magazine, dubbed 'Maroon's Mind Bogglers'? I had long been intrigued by the ancient Silk Route, from China to the Mediterranean, and thought it would be a photographic blockbuster as a story, or even a book. Why not add modern silk fashions to the landscape along Marco Polo's ancient route? Photographing in China was out of the question in 1968, but Afghanistan was an important segment of the route, and seemed to me to offer plenty of exotic locations. The editors agreed, the budget was approved, and I found myself in the unenviable position of now having to pull the thing off. I had never been to Afghanistan, but figured that it couldn't be any less hospitable than Outer Mongolia had been." - Fred Maroon reflects on his trip to Afghanistan for LOOK
About the Leningrad Fashion Series "LOOK Magazine purchased the rights to the Mongolian cashmere story, and The New York Times devoted half a page to it because of the sheer ambition of traveling halfway around the world, to a Communist country, in order to photograph women's fashions. My challenge now was to suggest an idea for a sequel. I proposed to LOOK that, since a million or more furs changed hands in the Fur Palace in Leningrad each year, and since that city boasted so many exquisite palaces, it would be a natural location in which to shoot a story about fur fashions. In January 1967 Jo Segal, the fashion editor of LOOK, and I met up with American model Ann Turkel in Paris and made our way to Moscow. We brought with us from the United States a collection of extravagant designer furs from some of New York's most prestigious furriers: Revillon of Saks Fifth Avenue, Maximilian, and Bergdorf Goodman. It took several days for these to clear customs. While waiting, we spent the time trying to persuade the Soviet officials to let us do the shoot in Leningrad; for some reason, although we thought the necessary permissions had been secured before we left the United States, officials were now insisting that we shoot the story in Moscow instead. We finally reached a compromise: we would be allowed to do our fur story in Leningrad, and in return we would do a story on Soviet women wearing Soviet fashions in Moscow.”
Behind the Lens; Cashmere Fashions in Mongolia. LOOK Magazine 1966 "In June 1966, I paid a call on John Anstey, editor of London's Weekend Telegraph Magazine - the supplement to the Daily Telegraph. It was the beginning of the most adventurous, risky part of my fifty year photographic career, both physically and creatively. Anstey and I chatted politely for a while and then he pulled out a bottle of Scotch. Our acquaintance began to warm rapidly, and before long he asked if I would be interested in doing an assignment for him. Only later, in the sober light of day, did I appreciate the masterful way he had played me, for before I felt his office I had committed myself to going to Outer Mongolia (a country I could not even place on a map) to photograph high fashions - a specialty I had often fancied, but never yet attempted”
About the Japan Fashion Series "Expo 70 was to take place in Osaka, Japan, and the editors at LOOK Magazine decided it would be an ideal time to do another of Maroon's "mind bogglers" - American fashions based on traditional Japanese costumes, photographed in appropriate settings in Japan. I had never been to Japan before, but had a preconceived vision of what I would find, derived largely from "Madama Butterfly", geisha girls, Kabuki players, and romantic wood block paintings of temples and shrines. The reality, I discovered, was very different. Japan had turned modern since Puccini last looked, and although the traditional was still there, it was more elusive than I would have liked. However, there was no justification for my going to such remote locations to photograph fashions if the settings didn't reflect the tradition and culture of the country, so I had my work cut out for me.