Sunday, March 27, 2011

Centrefold Venus of the Month: 22. March, Henriette Allais

This month's centrefold is one of Triple P's favourites from the eighties.  In fact, Henriette appeared in the Playboy March 1980 issue although it was then current screen sensation Bo Derek who made the cover.  Frankly, my dear, we preferred Henriette.

Playboy made a great deal of her being a southern belle. Born in Florida she was half French and part Cherokee but was brought up in Atlanta, Georgia.

Freytag's shoot draws a crowd in Memphis

As a result we got a whole load of Gone with the Wind styling largely photographed in a park in Memphis by Arny Freytag.

We bought this particular issue during our second term at Oxford and remember being very struck with Miss Allais and her perfect bust.

Triple P remembers being particulary taken with this sexy up the skirt shot.  We later managed to persuade a girlfriend to dispense with her knickers during much of the summer term; a request largely provoked by this picture.  There was something about the combination of long skirt and knowing that there was nothing underneath!

Triple P also remembers this pictorial as being pretty bold for Playboy at the time on the pussy front.  Henriette flashes her nether regions in a couple of enticing shots.

Henriette does sultry pretty well, we think!

She was a fan of yoga and was photographed going through a few moves for the pictorial.

She went to dental school and was a dental assistant in Los Angeles before she posed for Playboy.  You wouldn't mind going to the dentist if they employed a woman like Henriette!

Interestingly, the centrefold was shot by a different photographer, Richard Fegley.  It wasn't unique to have the main pictorial and centrefold by different photographers but it was unusual.

Fegley's effort is one of the most striking Playboy centrefolds, with Henriette emerging from a sequinned blue dress like a butterfly from its chrysalis.  We have included a few more of Henriette from this shoot.

We don't apologise for the number of pictures we have included in this post.  We have a lot in our collection and we just wanted to include as many as possible!  We have arranged them in batches based on what she is wearing.  Firstly,  we have some pictures from what we will call the stockings and black dress tranche.  These are shot in the same intererior as the blue dress ones, so these could be Richard Fegley as well.

We now present Henriette in a very pretty patterened corset, which was featured in the main pictorial. Firstly we see her outside, so these are by Freytag.

Next we see her inside.  We particularly like the one above.  She looks like she is just about to leap on top of you!  Resistance is futile!

Next we have the white corset tranche.  Henriette looks deeply seductive whether draped over furniture or glimpsed through a window like a million dollar courtesan.

Back outdoors for a few more of her as a southern belle from the Memphis shoot.  One of the remarkable things about Henriette is that whilst she has dark hair she has these amazing blue eyes.

With her tremendously long legs (she was 5' 8") she can even carry off just above the knee black stockings  effectively.

Brazilian Playboy featured her as their centrefold a few months after the US edition in may 1980.  They used largely the same pictures but opened their pictorial with this intererior rather than exterior clothed shot.

Here we have a few more shots taken at the same as those used in the magazine pictorial.

Next we move on to some taken at a different period as her hair is in a different style here.  In a couple of these she is showing a glimpse of her labia so they may not have been used in the magazine in the early eighties as Playboy had largely withdrawn from doing this at this point.

The January 1981 issues of Playboy saw the usual annual Playmate review and featured this new photograph of Henriette where it also revealed that she had moved to Paris to further her modelling career.  No more false teeth for Henriette.

Here, from the same shoot, she appears in the Japanese 1981 Playboy calendar.

 Henriette photographed by Ken Marcus in 1982

In April 1982 Henriette returned to the pages of Playboy to pose for Ken Marcus who had wanted to work with her since he saw her centrefold two years before.  By this time she had appeared in Vogue and posed for some of the world's leading fashion photographers such as Francis Giacobetti and André Berg.

Marcus rejected the boudoir style of Freytag for a more contemporary look which focussed on Allais' magnificent form with as few distractions as possible.  The first page of shots in the piece featured Allais in a swimsuit and emphasised her perkily erect nipples in a superbly tactile way.

In his second set for the feature, he posed Henriette in a pair of leopard print knickers and put her on an ornate bench with matching leopard print cover.  What stopped the pictures being mundane was that he then put both in a rough concrete alcove.  The neutral background setting off Allais' beautifully honed body perfectly.

In some of the pictures he dispensed with her knickers.  The first of these pictures appeared in the first issue of Playboy's Nudes in 1990.  In the late eighties Playboy started to publish "Newsstand Specials" which just featured pictures of Playmates grouped under a loose theme without all that tedious writing that featured in the magazines! 

Marcus also took an even more pared back set which just saw Henriette in a big light box demonstrating her enviable yoga trained flexibility by throwing some elegant shapes. 

The final photograph in the 1982 magazine pictorial was this unusually explicit photograph of Henriette in the concrete alcove.  Hands behind her head to emphasise her perfect breasts, squatting in high heels, pink labia unashamedly on display you can see the effect of two years of Parisian modelling in her confident demeanour.  She is truly magnificent!

Marcus wrote about her that "She projects an intense sexuality when she works.  Henriette is a body artist: what she does with her body in front of a camera is her art."

Here are a couple of Henriette, also looking rather more contemporary than in her magazine pictorial, from Playboy's Bathing Beauties, another newsstand special.

Big Nude III (1980) by Helmut Newton

We have left it to the end before we show Henriette's most famous pictures.  Paid a mere $75 in 1980 to shoot an editorial feature for Paris Vogue she modelled for Helmut Newton for what have become some of the most recognisable and iconic nudes of the last fifty years.  First published in Vogue in October 1980 the pictures were later published in his book Big Nudes (1981). 

Henriette at left

Henriette front right

Although these pictures have become some of the most famous of Newton's photographs they are actually rather unusual in that they are shot against a plain studio backdrop; something Newton almost never did.

Big Nude V (1980)

Newton worked with Allais for the next couple of years and she posed for another famous picture, Tied up Torso in Ramatuelle near St Tropez, also in 1980.  Henriette worked with Newton more than any other model.

Tied up torso (1980)

A print of Big Nude III sold at Christies in 2005 for $311,344 a then world record for a photograph.  Another sold in 2008 for $482,500.

Henriette with Sumo in 2006


In 2006 when Henriette featured on the cover of Newton's giant retrospective book Sumo (at $5,000 a copy, one of the biggest and most expensive books ever published) she was interviewed and posed for some photographs that demonstrated that at the age of 55 she was still in fantastic shape.  She never made any real money from the images, of course.  Fashion magazine editorial work being notoriously badly paid.

Henriette at 55

So, not only is Henriette Allais one of Triple P's favourite Playmates of all time she is also one of the most recognised images in the world, even though most people have no idea who she is.  Now living in the pretty town of Ojai in Southern California she works as a massage therapist, still studying yoga but now also karate.

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