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L'Agence and L.A. photographer Brad Elterman team up for a show at Ron Herman

November 12, 2009 |  3:17 pm
Look 31 L.A. in the Swinging '70s was a heady time, and few photographers captured the hedonistic swirl like Brad Elterman. An early paparazzo and celebrity photographer, Elterman snapped some of the city’s most fascinating players – including Farrah Fawcett, Joan Jett and Matt Dillon – in a time before publicists shuttled stars around like fragile cargo.

In Elterman’s early days as a lensman, he used to bop around town with friend Margaret Maldonado – who’s since built a mini empire representing stylists, makeup artists, photographers and hairdressers via the Margaret Maldonado Agency. The two lost touch for a couple of decades, but when they recently reunited, they got to talking about their latest projects; for Maldonado it was her L’Agence clothing line, which launched last year, and for Elterman, a forthcoming coffee table book.

Mutually inspired by each other’s work, they decided to partner on a capsule collection of T-shirts for L’Agence using three of Elterman’s classic photographs: of a young Joan Jett, a pre-diefied Michael Jackson and a semi-sordid scene by a pool behind the Beverly Hills Hotel that captures a free-spirited woman in process of stripping.

“It tickles me to be involved in this,” said Elterman, who added that most of his famous photos would never have come to fruition in this day and age – what with the beefy entourages celebs walk around with. “People don't comprehend the access you could have. It really was a magical time. You look at celebrities today -- you can't do this, it's all controlled. And I think that shows in the images.”

The men’s and women’s T-shirts – which retail for $142 to $168 – will be on display (and on sale) as a part of an exhibition of Elterman’s photography at Ron Herman, starting Nov. 14 and running through Dec. 26. The in-store show, “Like It was Yesterday,” shares the title of Elterman’s photo book, which will also be on sale in the display.

Herman, who also fondly remembers living it up amidst the beautiful people in '70s L.A., said Elterman’s photos “really speak of Hollywood and really speak of L.A. Brad took pictures of people who made the L.A. fashion scene. I thought if we were to do an exhibit of those days and show his book and show a source of inspiration that Margaret had for her pre-spring line…that we would be able to tie it all together in an interesting way. As we approach the holiday season with all the doom and gloom, I wanted to do something that people could walk by and say, ‘Wow, that is so cool.’ It will bring a lightness of being to the store.”

--Emili Vesilind

Photo of Michael Jackson L'Agence shirt courtesy of L'Agence.

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