Willy Maywald was born in Kleve in the Lower Rhine region in 1907, he attended the schools of applied arts in Krefeld, Cologne, and Berlin which shaped his avant-garde style. In 1932 he moved to the city on the Seine, where he befriended many of the protagonists of modern art. The bustling arts scene of Paris offered him many different images – from the 1937 World Exhibition to the nuclear research facility in Ivry-sur-Seine.
At the beginning of World War II Maywald was initially detained and then fled successfully to Switzerland. In 1946 he came back to Paris. He helped Christian Dior’s New Look rise to fame; he became a fashion photographer for all major Haute Couture houses in Paris. The photographs Maywald took in prominent artist’s studios – Picasso and Léger among others – were put on display in galleries and reprinted in many magazines and books.
When he moved back to Paris in August 1946 he mainly focused on fashion and celebrity photography. He photographed for various fashion designers and his images were recognized internationally. Maywald was known for photographing in unique scenes. He was one of the first fashion photographers to photograph his subjects in the streets of Paris. He had a way of photographing his subjects in these various places but the image still focused on the model/clothing. He became Christian Dior’s elite photographer. Maywald photographed the well-known designers creations and his photographs were featured on the cover of several magazines including Vogue and Vanity Fair. Although Maywald was the main photographer for Dior, he also photographed for several other fashion designers at the time. Although photographing fashion, he produced images of celebrities as well. These celebrities ranged from artists to movie stars to athletes.
Maywald retired from his career in 1968 with fashion photography and died in 1985.