These are rare photographs from the estate and family of Vilem Heckel. The images are from a fashion show at Karlovy Vary in Bohemia sometime during the early to mid-1950s. Please make sure to read this wonderful photographer’s bio at the end of this post.
Now… on to the gorgeous fashions!
Note: We claim absolutely no rights to any of his photos, and only share them here in hopes that more people will be aware of his work. Links to his website and Facebook page which are maintained by his family are also below.
Bio from his website: If there was ever an individual whose work has irrevocably made a historical, unique, and irrevocable contribution not only to Czech but to world photography, the man is Vïlém Heckel. His fundamental passionate love of nature, sport, and especially the high mountains provided a lifetime passion for mountaineering photography. Ironically, his love for photographing mountains, especially monumental mountain ranges unfortunately also became his destiny.
Vilém Heckel was born in 1918 in Pilsen into the family of Adolf Heckel, a crane operator for Skoda Plzen, who himself was a devout tourist and passionate photographer who had no idea that he would predestine the career of his son.
In 1936, Vilém Heckel studied in Pilsen as a trade photographer, specializing in portraits, and began working in small photography studios. After that, he became a trade photographer in Zbrojovka, Brno, and the Czechoslovak Chamber of Commerce in Prague. He also devoted his time to commercial photography in his work, concentrating on cars, motorcycles, electronics, etc., yet this body of his work is largely unknown and unrecognized.
In 1949 he was admitted to the photographic section of the Association of Czechoslovak Creative Artists. In the fifties, he began to actively commit himself to mountain climbing. He successfully completes his first major ascents and along with his cameras discovers and captures the instrumentality of primordial nature, and the magical majesty of the mountains and discovers his personal gift that gives these photographs a story and humanist relevance. In 1956, he left his regular day job and fully devoted himself to his freelance photography.
Finally, he can now fully and freely devote himself to his beloved mountains and travel, local and worldwide expeditions and trips. He published his first publication, Our Mountains. In 1960 he had his first public exhibition in Prague of a collection of his photographs from the Caucasus.
In the sixties, he published a series of monograms with the following titles- Journeys to the High Peaks, Kingdom of the Sun and Ice Expedition Caucasus, Hindu Kush, The Stairs of the Universe, and others.
On 23rd April 1970, he departed on an expedition to Peru to climb the mountain range surrounding Huascaran.
Tragically, on May 31st, he and his friends and expedition climbing partners died in a mountaineering camp avalanche of mud and rocks during an earthquake under the mountain of Huascaran. The focus and themes of Vilém Heckel‘s work are not only mountains. He created a monumental body of work encompassing excellent portraits, unparalleled architecture, urban atmosphere, winding streets, intimate moments, and those magical yet sometimes fleeting moments that landscape provides.
In Trento, in the competition of Vitorio Sella, he won the top award for mountaineering photography. During his lifetime he published 10 books, many of which have been translated in numerous languages. The photographs of Vilém Heckel continue to be posthumously published in a memorial book as well as other publications, which confirm his constant relevance, importance, and actuality. He and his wife Milada and daughters Eva and Helena lived in Cernosice near Prague. Among his close friends were the writers Ota Pavel, Arnošt Lustig, Arnošt Černík; the world-renowned athlete Emil Zátopek, František Štastný, the screenwriter and director František Pojdl; and world-class mountaineers Radan Kuchař, Bohumil Svatoš, Jan Červinka. His artistic and human sensitivity, technical excellence, diligence, hard work, courage, and exclusivity, have ranked Vilém Heckel among the leading Czech and international photographers for generations to come.
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