Mary Jane on the left and Leonie Vernet on the right are both wearing dresses of silk surah in shades of pink. One is printed with organic shapes with the skirt back-swung and the other in impressionistic pink flowers, the flowers on the bodice are embroidered with beads.
She was born Mary Jane Walton on July 10 1926 in Teaneck, New Jersey and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College. Mary began modelling in New York in 1948 at the height of the ‘New Look’ and worked for the Ford Agency for next 13 years, appearing on dozens of covers of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. Though not as tall as other photographic models, she was just 5ft 6 and possessed a long neck and classical features that suited the era's elegant mood.
“She brought to her posing as a model concentration and tenderness, rare in the fashion medium today,” said Irving Penn, who used Mary for his photograph ‘Girl Drinking’, which appeared in Vogue in 1949. Often photographed in profile, she also posed for Irving’s well-known 1951 image ‘Girl With Tobacco on Tongue’, a sitting that required Mary to flick a bit of cigarette tobacco off her tongue repeatedly, in a ladylike way of course.
Louise Dahl-Wolfe often requested Mary, according to Irving Solero, the photographer of the museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology, which houses Louise Dahl-Wolfe's colour archive. “Louise had so much power and because she and Carmel Snow, the editor of Harper's Bazaar, were close, Louise was able to get whom she wanted, and she asked for Mary Jane a lot,” said Mr Solero, who estimates that Mary modelled for about 30 percent of Dahl-Wolfe's photos. She also worked for the photographers Richard Avedon and William Klein.
After Mary retired from modelling, she became active in zoning and environmental issues in Pound Ridge, New York where the couple lived for 37 years before moving to Bluffton, South Carolina. Mary died of pulmonary fibrosis on November 20 2003 in Charleston, South Carolina. In addition to her husband, she is survived by their three sons; John, David and Mark.