I’ve just come across a selection of very early colour photography, done in Britain. First is JCA Redhead (1886-1954), who “had access to supplies of scarce Kodachrome colour film” during World War II and “took many colour portraits of politicians, high-ranking military figures and celebrities as well as ordinary people involved in the war effort.” Check out the portraits of Yousuf Karsh and Margaret Bourke-White.
Then, there is Walter Bird (1903-1969), who shot colour photos in the 1930s, using “a newly available colour process, Vivex. Vivex was a variant of the Carbro process, developed by Dr D A Spencer FRPS at the Colour Photographs (British & Foreign) Ltd factory in Willesden. Marketed between 1931-39, it enabled photographers, like Bird, to produce colour prints of high quality and rich intensity.” It can’t really get any more gorgeous than this.
Lastly, there’s W J Pilkington (1912-2000), who, using “a one-shot colour separation camera, he produced colour photographs for commercial purposes, including recipe books, mail-order catalogues and book jackets.” Yes, this is a swimsuit photo, but it got more style and class than a whole decade of “Swimsuit Illustrated”.