Mag­gie Tab­berer, 79

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Stellar - - Legends Of The Catwalk -

DIS­COV­ERED AT AGE 14 at a fam­ily wed­ding, Mar­garet May Tab­berer was work­ing as a de­part­ment-store model in Ade­laide in the ’50s when the great­est cre­ative in­flu­ence of her life, pho­tog­ra­pher Hel­mut New­ton, in­ter­vened.

Tall, broad-shoul­dered and in pos­ses­sion of a so­phis­ti­cated look and re­mark­able al­mond eyes, Tab­berer, then 23 and mar­ried to first hus­band Charles, would move to Mel­bourne and be­come a fix­ture at New­ton’s stu­dio af­ter the pho­tog­ra­pher per­suaded Charles that his much-younger wife could make a lot of money mod­el­ling.

New­ton, a Ger­man-born Jew who had been in­terned in Aus­tralia by the Bri­tish Army in 1940, would go on to be­come one of the world’s great­est fash­ion pho­tog­ra­phers – and Mar­garet May Tab­berer, for­merly Tri­gar, would, along the way, be­come New­ton’s lover and a house­hold name: “Mag­gie T”.

“I was very gifted be­cause Hel­mut met me and said, ‘Come to the stu­dio ev­ery morn­ing.’ And of course that’s what I did – I didn’t have an agent, I just went there,” said Tab­berer. “What­ever he was shoot­ing, I was shoot­ing. It was a very great in­tro­duc­tion be­cause he knew so much. He’d worked in Europe and he was a Vogue dar­ling and had all the big ac­counts of the day.

“I just soaked it all up. Not just how to stand to please him, or how to look – but how to con­trib­ute and have a say about what I thought and grad­u­ally, grad­u­ally, grad­u­ally he taught me. I have to give him a lot of credit. He was very pa­tient with me.”

When New­ton quit Aus­tralia for Europe to rein­vent fash­ion pho­tog­ra­phy at French Vogue in the early ’60s, he in­vited Tab­berer to go with him – but, “I couldn’t go to Paris! I had two lit­tle girls, two ba­bies. I couldn’t just go,” says Tab­berer. “And I never won­der what could have been if I had – I didn’t do too badly here af­ter all.”

In truth, Tab­berer did in­cred­i­bly well and would pi­o­neer a new pro­fes­sional call­ing – that of Aus­tralian celebrity model.

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