In 1914, shortly after the War, a L. Richard and his wife Nativa founded the Yva Richard Company. The company was selling costumes, women’s hats, shoes, and high-class lingerie and was stored at Studio 9 at the Rue Pillet-Will in Paris. Nativa was a seamstress so it is rather safe to say she may have been producing lingerie that was sold through their company.
They hired professional photographers for presenting their products in catalogues but the results did not satisfy them so L. Richard took it upon himself to learn about photography and his wife posed as his model (and muse perhaps?). This would have lead to a different dynamic which is shown in the photos.
The very first advertisements date back to 1917 and were for costume and high class lingerie. The lingerie company however collapsed in the late 1920s and in its place Yva Richard became mainly an erotic photo studio creating and selling exceptional, high quality photographs featuring seductive lingerie.
They kept the concept they had started, Nativa modelling and Mr. Richard photographing. It showed its success since the demand for their photos was selling their photos became a significant revenue stream. Nativa had no problems posing in her own creations, some say she was a unashamed exhibitionist, personally I think she had her own ideas on how the lingerie and costumes she had created could be presented in the best possible way and as a couple they managed to add a certain vibe to their work. Something professional photographers were unable to capture since they missed the specific dynamics they had as a photographer/model couple.
At one blog I came across this text:
As the bondage market became “the vogue”, Yva Richard’s publicity featured fetishistic accessories and s/m accoutrements, including leather corsets, kid gloves, handcuffs, dog collars with leashes, and bondage gear using Nativa as the model. Images of Nativa often appeared under the names, Helios and Miss Milado.
The in-house photography developed and imaginative festish themes outfits became part of their work as well. High leather boots, long leather gloves, lace bras and panties, satin corsets, gartner belts, silk stockings and patent leather high heels are just some examples of the products they were selling. Their main sales outlet was via a mail-order catalog, La Lingerie Moderne (photographed by Ostra Studio), and magazine advertisements in La Vie Parisienne, Le Sourire, and most likely London Life.
They had only one major rival, Diana Slip, also based in Paris. In America, the only significant dealer in fetish paraphernalia and photography (much of it imported from France) at that time was Charles Guyette in New York.
They also sold erotic photos of bondage, whipping and spanking from well-known photographers such as H. Manuel and Ostra Studio (a division of Biederer Studio). For 15 years the company and brand retained a lucrative monopoly on luxury and rare fetish lingerie and then their story ends the same as that of the Biederer Brothers:
With the rise of censorship under the Nazi occupation of France, Yva Richard was closed down in 1943, it is also mentioned that the rise of the shop owned by Leon Vidal (connected to Diana Slip Lingerie Company) was what caused Yva Richard Studio to fall down.
Anyhow this couple had a huge influence on artists like John Willie and producer Irving Klaw back in their days. In the 1950s, Klaw’s models, including Bettie Page, can be seen wearing a metal cone-bra and chastity belt outfit that is an updated version of the one modelled by Nativa Richard. Even today the works from this photographer/muse duo inspire many artists and photographers.