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Living The High Life: Vintage Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous

Madeline Hiltz
(Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

Take a peek into the glamorous lifestyle of the rich and famous! Working for publications like Life magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, and Town & Country, photographer Slim Aarons spent his life snapping photos of some of the glitziest aristocrats and socialites of his time. Here we take a peek into the fascinating world of the ultra-wealthy through Aarons’ photos.

Tropical Vacations

Villa Nirvana

Guests around the pool at the Villa Nirvana hotel, owned by Oscar Obregon, in Las Brisas, Acapulco, Mexico. Circa January 1971. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

George A. Aarons, also known as Slim Aarons, was the self-appointed photographer-in-chief of high society from the 1950s through the 1970s.

Katharine Hepburn and Irene Mayer Selznick

Actress Katharine Hepburn (left) and socialite Irene Mayer Selznick (right) in Montego Bay, Jamaica, 1953. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

Tania Mallet relaxing in the Bahamas

Actress Tania Mallet relaxes on a red-curtained four-poster in Eleuthera, Bahamas, circa 1960. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

Because of Aaron’s connections, he had access to the rich that others could only dream of. He was often invited to their châteaus, ski lodges, members-only clubs, and onto their yachts.

Holiday In Mustique

Pierre Vincent Marais and his wife Isabelle holiday with friends at Gelliceaux House, their home on the island of Mustique in the Grenadines, February 1989. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

Aarons wasn’t always the photographer of high society, however. During the Second World War he was an Army photographer.

Lobster lunch in the Caribbean

A lobster lunch on the beach on Nevis, in the Caribbean, March 1984. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

Bettina Graziani in a hammock

French fashion model Bettina Graziani (Simone Micheline Bodin) (1925 – 2015) relaxing on a hammock in Costa Smeralda, Sardinia, Italy, 1964. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

Aarons won a Purple Heart during his time in the Army. However, his time in the military taught him that the only beach worth landing on was “decorated with beautiful girls… tanning in a tranquil sun.”

Luxury in the snow

Mountain Buffet in France

Courchevel restaurant chefs Jean Jacob (left) of ‘Le Bateau Ivre’, Michel Rochedy (centre) of ‘Le Chabichou’, and Albert Parveaux of ‘Pralong 2000’, Courchevel, France, April 1987. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

After the Second World War, Aaron began working for various local papers in California before opening a bureau for Life magazine in Rome.

Bartender mixing drinks at the Ice Bar in Lech Austria

A bartender mixes a drink for a customer at the Ice Bar at the Hotel Krone in Lech, Austria, 1960. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

Apres Ski in Vail, Colorado

Apres Ski in Vail, Colorado, March 1964. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

It was after he was set up in Rome that Aarons began photographing the rich and famous. According to Laura Hawk, who worked as Slim’s assistant from the early 1980s until his death in 2006, “he never set out to be a photographer of the rich and famous, but it just so happened that he landed a job for an upscale magazine and gravitated to that world.”

Holiday in Austria

Women spending their holiday in Kitzbühel, Austria, circa 1990. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stinger/ Getty Images)

Opera singer in St. Moritz

American-born opera singer Karen Davis arrives at the Palace Hotel in a vintage horsedrawn sleigh, St Moritz, Switzerland, March 1978. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

Slim Aarons made a career out of photographing beautiful people in his own way. His subjects were photographed in natural surroundings, with little makeup, and no artificial light.

cross country skiing in Austria

A group of men and women go cross-country skiing in Seefeld, Austria, 1985. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

Elaborate parties

Pool Party at Nelda Linsk's desert house in Palm Springs

Pool party at Nelda Linsk’s desert house in Palm Springs, January 1970. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

About his technique, Aarons has described his subjects as “attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places.”

Party at the Playboy Mansion 1961

Guests of Hugh Hefner enjoying themselves at a party being held at the Playboy Mansion in Chicago, 1961. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

Party in Marbella, Spain

Guests at a party at the home of Sebastiano Bergese in Marbella, Spain, August 1967. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

However, Slim Aarons’ goal was never to celebrate or critique his ultra-wealthy subjects. According to Shawn Waldron, who co-wrote the book Slim Aarons: Style, Aarons was driven simply by a journalistic curiosity about how the world’s most privileged individuals lived.

A party at Romanoff's

A party at Romanoff’s in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, 1959. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

Kings of Hollywood

Film stars (left to right) Clark Gable, Van Heflin, Gary Cooper and James Stewart enjoy a joke at a New Year’s party held at Romanoff’s in Beverly Hills. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

One of Slim’s most famous photos is shown above, and is now known as “The Kings of Hollywood.” Clark Gable, Van Heflin, Gary Cooper, and Jimmy Stewart are all photographed together sharing a laugh during a 1957 New Year’s Eve party. Clearly, these superstars were at ease around Slim Aarons. However, according to Aarons himself, these four men were laughing because “Gable is telling them how bad he thought I’d be in the movie [It Started In Naples].

Audrey Hepburn socializing at a party

Belgian-born actress Audrey Hepburn socializing at a party in San Francisco. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Getty Images)

Huge homes

Donna Stefanella Vanni Calvello di San Vincenzo reclines in the Hall of Mirror

Donna Stefanella Vanni Calvello di San Vincenzo reclines in the Hall of Mirrors at her family’s residence, Palazzo Gangi, in Palermo, Sicily, Italy, 1984. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

In 1974, Aarons published the book A Wonderful Time: An Intimate Portrait of the Good Life. In 2003, a sequel titled Once Upon A Time came out, and two years later, in 2005, a third book called A Place In The Sun was released. These books are filled with photographs Aarons took depicting the glamour of the wealthy.

Polly Trott Hornburg Beremuda House

Polly Trott Hornburg in front of her father’s typical Bermudian house, circa 1957. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

The Romanones at home

Dowager Countess of Romanones, Blanca de Borbon (right, with Parasol), with her daughter, the Marquesa of Tamarit (left, with fan) and granddaughters, Maria (left) and her younger sister, Victoria, at the Countess’s home in Madrid, Spain, May 1976. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

Aarons was able to gain the trust, respect, and friendship of his subjects because he never made fun of the people he photographed. Rather, he liked to show them having fun, or poking a little fun at themselves.

Ann Getty and sons

Philanthropist Ann Getty, the wife of millionaire oil tycoon Gordon Getty, with two of their four sons, Andrew 1967 – 2015, (left) and Billy, at their home in Pacific Heights, San Francisco, USA, August 1979. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

More from us: Exposing The Rich And Famous: Truman Capote and ‘La Côte Basque 1965’

Slim Aarons passed away on May 30, 2006, at the age of 89.

Princess Colonna and her son, Prospero Colonn

Princess Colonna and her son, Prospero Colonna, in the family residence, Palazzo Colonna, in Rome, Italy, circa 1960. (Photo Credit: Slim Aarons/ Stringer/ Getty Images)

Madeline Hiltz

Madeline Hiltz is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News