Antoinette Frissell was born in 1907 in New York, but took photos under the name Toni Frissell, even after her marriage to Manhattan socialite McNeil Bacon. She worked with many famous photographers of the day, as an apprentice to Cecil Beaton, and with advice from Edward Steichen. Her initial job, as a fashion photographer for Vogue in 1931, she later took photographs for Harper's Bazaar. In the 1950s, she took informal portraits of the famous and powerful in the United States and Europe, including Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, and John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy, and she did location photography on a freelance basis for LIFE, Look, Vogue, and Sports Illustrated until her retirement in 1967.Toni Frissell died of Alzheimer's disease on 1988, in Long Island.
Frissell's major contribution to fashion photography was her development of the realistic fashion photograph in the 1930s and 1940s. She had a tendency to use uncommon perspectives, which she achieved by placing her camera on a dramatic diagonal axis, and/or using a low point of view and a wide-angle lens against a neutral background, thus creating the illusion of elongated human form.
Frissell had a strict and simple philosophy: “I love anything that falls free of your body—peasant smocks, fishermen’s smocks, coolie coats. I don’t like to see a woman’s backside, no matter how flat it is.”