Slim Aarons started his professional photography career after World War II, at the dawn of commercial air travel and the birth of the jet set. Over the next half-century, he photographed titans of business, Austrian princesses, society decorators, heiresses, dukes, actresses such as Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich, ranchers, race car drivers, big game hunters, philanthropists, opera singers, socialites like C.Z. Guest, and political royalty ranging from Jackie Kennedy to the Duchess of Windsor.
The photographer who documented the breadth of postwar high society had a number of rules that, he felt, gave him this kind of access. In a book set to arrive on what would have been Aarons's 100th birthday, his longtime assistant Laura Hawk recounts his mantra: "No assistants, no props, no stylists, no lights, no problems." The photographer's rules for Hawk herself were no less strict: "No heavy suitcases, no tennis rackets, no hairdresser appointments, no minibar tabs, no shopping, no dry cleaning, no days off, no boyfriends, no sightseeing, and for God's sake—no cameras."
There were three pieces of clothing, Hawk writes, that Aarons steadfastly refused to photograph: Jeans, T-shirts, and running shoes, a rule that seems almost unthinkable today, in a world that seems to lurch from suits to sweatpants, with nothing in between. In this way, though, he was an idealist, documenting what he felt this world of leisure should look like. "I don't do fashion," he famously said. "I take photos of people in their own clothes and that becomes fashion." Here are 10 examples.