In just two decades, Courchevel morphed from mountain village to the summit of Alpine chic, today exemplified by L’Apogée. This shot captures its evolving glamour.
Clad in sleek pastel ski-suits, the stylish models in Frances McLaughlin-Gill’s 1963 Courchevel fashion shoot conjure an era when the ski scene was fast becoming a byword for jet-set glamour. Hard to imagine, then, that just a few decades earlier, this land was still a small cluster of farmer’s fields. By the mid-1920s, Courchevel was beginning to attract the first generation of mountaineer skiers – hardy souls capable of scaling its lofty peaks without a lift. In the 1940s, the French Commission for Tourism suggested creating a “super ski resort”, which changed the destiny of this Alpine village forever. Among those early superhuman skiers were the two Savoyards, Laurent Chappis and Maurice Michaud, who conceived the first plans for the resort, seamlessly integrating it into the landscape. Chappis spent three gruelling months on skis, mapping the best routes of Les Trois Vallées. Around the same time, in America, 24-year-old McLaughlin-Gill was signed up in 1943 as Vogue’s first female fashion photographer by art director Alexander Liberman, who saw in her the potential to breathe life into the rigidly formal fashion photography of the era.
Fast-forward 20 years to 1963 and McLaughlin- Gill was in Courchevel, capturing the now world-famous ski scene for the pages of Glamour. She had emerged as a star photographer, covering the enchanting Paris fashion weeks of the 1950s, and was now on the brink of a new career as a film producer. By then, Courchevel 1850 had become a bustling resort – the skiers were chic and the hotels in high demand. Today, it remains the home of effortless style at altitude. Guests ski straight out from the L’Apogée Courchevel onto the resort’s lifts, enjoy an exquisite lunch at 2,000m, and then glide back into sumptuous comfort afterwards. And they still wear ski-suits of every colour.