NotesBRUNO BENINI (1925-2001)
Prepared by Anne-Marie Van de Ven, Curator, March 2008
Bruno Benini was an Italian-born Melbourne-based Australian fashion photographer. He initially studied science (industrial chemistry) at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) but from the 1950s, went on to become a leading Australian fashion photographer. Benini established a lasting creative partnership with New Zealand-born fashion stylist Hazel Benini (nee Craig) after they married in 1962. Together they generated an enormous number of publicity shots promoting local fashion houses and retailers on the fashion pages of all leading Australian newspapers.
1925: Born 17 February, 1925 in Massa Marittima, Tuscany, Italy
1935: Migrates to Australia with his Tuscan family (aged 10) - mother, brother and sister.
Father arrived in Australia a year earlier.
1935- : Secondary education at Rathdowne Street School.
1940s: Studies science/chemistry at the Melbourne Technical College (now RMIT University).
1949: Works as an Industrial Chemist at General Motors Holden.
1949/1950: Travels overseas to Italy, with a stop over in London, and decides to pursue a career in photography.
Early 1950s (date to be confirmed poss 1953): Joins Peter Fox Studios in Collins Street, Melbourne (training under Catherine Perkins and working with Henry Talbot.)
1954 (date to be confirmed): Sets up his own studio/ business in Kew - primary income derived from wedding photography and studio portraits.
1950s: Occassionally working as a fashion model for Helmut Newton, Henry Talbot and Athol Shmith as a means of honing his own photographic skills.
(The Henry Talbot and Janice Wakely photography archives include photographs of Bruno modelling.)
Norman Ikin encourages Benini's photographic activities, and also Hans Hasenpflug who briefly worked with Bruno as a printer.
From 1956: Benini was producing glamorous, high-end fashion photography.
Clients/fashion included Phillipa Gowns, Ninette, La Petit, Hall Ludlow, Potter and Moore, Hall Ludlow, Theo Haskin's Salon Milano, Sutex, Knitcraft, Diamond Cut, Cole of California, Georges, Australian Wool Board and Dominex.
Works with models: Bambi Shmith, Janet Dawson, Helen Homewood, Pauline Kiernan, Leah McCartney, Francine Brown, Kathy Murrell, Wendy List and Lynn Gleeson.
Late 1950s: Travels to London, via New York. Meets up with Helmut and June Newton and Janice Wakely in London. Meets David Bailey and other photographs around Portobello Road and Carnaby Street.
1959: Returns to Melbourne. Meets Hazel Craig (nee Craig, born New Zealand).
1962: Marries Hazel Benini in Melbourne.
1960s: Hazel and Bruno Benini worked together. Bruno moves his studio to various buildings in the city.
Earlier high fashion styles progressively gave way to funkier, younger styles. Photographs appear in fashion magazines and all major Australian newspapers.
1973: Hazel and Bruno travel overseas together - to Sardinia, Florence, Rome, London and Paris.
Clients/fashion include Phillipa Gowns, Georges Imports, Diamond Cut, Arnel, Dominex, Cole of California, Suzie Fergusson, Arnel Fabrics, Sharene Creations, [Bythway] Gown of the Year, Arnel Fabrics, Charlotte 5th Avenue, Jeff Bade, Steven Glass, Hicks Atkinson, Sharene Creations, Jo Bond, Everglaze, Potter and Moore, Everglaze, Sportscraft, Norma Tullo, Sharene, Sportgirl, Adal, Stephen Glass, Villawool, Robert Pierce, Wittner Shoes, Balenciaga, Maglia, John J. Hilton, Norma Tullo, L'Officiel, Holepoof, Noel Jenkin for Harbigs, Ninette, Wool Board.
Works with models: Helen Homewood, Janice Wakely, Anita Hastings, Jenny Ham, Alan Pitkus, Lynn Gleeson, Gillian Montgomery, Margo McKendry, Leah McCartney, Jill Copner, Lynn Richmond, Wendy Mead, Terry Taylor, Ushi Huber, Yvonne Hayes, Robin Garland, Justine Silver, Rosemary Naughton, Anne Hamilton, Carol Townsend, Lorraine Childs, Si Young, Alan Walker, Jan Stewart, Joan Green, Susie Cuthbert, Edith Freeman, Janni Goss, Marg Hanna, Dawn Scott, Gillian Dixon, Wendy Marshall and Maggi Eckardt.
Fashion/clients include Garry Bradley (Jeweller), Ninette, Nutmeg, Sportsgirl, Norma Tullo, Bettina, Lisal Furs, Solo, Gala, Prue Acton, Mike Treloar, Solo's Storm Stopper, 'Emma' for Gala, Ninette, Lurex, Moya Shoes, Nutmeg, Norma Tullo for Holeproof, Concept by Gala, Stiletto the Italian Torch, Laura Ashley, Frenchknit, Ninette, Le Louvre, Coffeys Boutique, Adelaide, Laura Ashley, Fibremakers, Raymond Castles, Le Louvre (Collins St), Ozzie Clarke for Georges, Hiltons Boutique, Batika, Holeproof, Van Roth, Prestige Ltd, Maglia, Bob Leopold (hair), Fiorucci, Yves Saint Laurent, and Bottega Boutique.
Works with models: Yvonne Goederman, Terry Scott, Sandi Mitchell, Jenny McKenzie, Nola Clark, Anne Brownlee, Dawn Scott, Janice Wakely, Yvonne Rockman, Astrid Corporal, Gael McKay, Jull Hamilton, Kissane Codrington, Robin Fong, Bronwyn Baillieu, Marg Hanna, Sue Rein, Gary Rowland, P. Golding, Jenny Ward, Monica Liebich, Sue Smithers, Robin McBeth, Louise Volke, Marg Hanna, Jackie Holmes, Jill Hamilton, Lori Craig, Julie Wilkinson, Jenny McKenzie, Di Sweeney, Jamayl, Joybelle, Di Sweeney and Finlay Light.
1980s: Continues fashion photography but also undertaking more portraiture, including male nudes.
1990: Closes McKillop Street studio. Continues photographic practise from his home in Fitzroy.
1996: Powerhouse Museum curator meets Bruno Benini and encourages the photographer to collate and document his collection.
1998: Emerging interest in the photographer's work: Benini fashion photographs published in 'PARADE The story of fashion in Australia' by Alexandra Joel (Harper Collins Publishers); Photographs (4) purchased for the newly-refurbished Georges basement brasserie, Collins St, Melbourne (alongside 30 by Athol Shmith); National Gallery of Victoria acquires small group of Benini photographs; and Bruno Benini presents his photograph of the Henry Haskin 'Gown of the Year' photograph to the Jewish Museum, Melbourne as they hold the original dress.
1999: Retrospective, 'Bruno Benini Fashion Images 1956-1976' held at RMIT University Gallery, Storey Hall, Melbourne as part of the Woolmark Melbourne Fashion Festival.
2009: Powerhouse Museum purchases the Bruno Benini archive with support from the Commonwealth Government through the National Cultural Heritage Account.
Anne-Marie Van de Ven, interviews and conversations with Bruno and Hazel Benini, Sydney and Melbourne, 1996-1998.
Anne-Marie Van de Ven, telephone conversations with Hazel Benini, Sydney/Melbourne, 2007-2009.
Bruno Benini, typed and handwritten annotations on collection contact sheets.
'Bruno Benini fashion images 1956-1976' brochure, RMIT Gallery/France Bourke Textiles Resource Centre, Melbourne, 1999.
Janelle McCulloch, 'glory days', Inside Melbourne, Vol 2 Issue 4, 7 February, 1999 p22