The Moschino first advertising campaign with Jeremy Scott as the brand’s new creative director, Scott call upon some of the top names in the business; Linda Evangelista, Stella Tennant, Carolyn Murphy, Saskia de Brauw, Karen Elson and Raquel Zimmerman whom pose in black and white imagery by Steven Meisel. Make-Up by Pat McGrath, Hair by Guido Palau, Styled by Carlyne Cerf De Dudzeele
“Visionaire first featured the designs of Lee Alexander McQueen in 1996 and since that time, he has been a continuous inspiration and a presence in Visionaire. McQueen’s special commissions are among our most treasured contributions. His daring designs and challenging ideas of fashion have consistently excited and provoked us.”
Stephen Gan, Cecilia Dean and James Kaliardos
Protected in a modernly-chic white box, the tri-annual fashion and art publication Visionaire has released its tribute to the life and work of late fashion designer and icon Lee Alexander McQueen. The issue includes a collection of photographs by Nick Knight, Lady Gaga, Steven Klein, Steven Meisel, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Mario Testino, Mario Sorrenti and more, each printed on a piece of pulp paper embedded with wildflower seeds that will actually blossom if you plant them, water them and give them enough sun. However, with its striking images and homage to a true fashion legacy, we don’t intend to plant the pages anytime soon. Plus, the case features a metalized brocade detail from the designer’s final collection. All in all, a very romantic collector’s piece.
Several years before issue 58 came to be (2003), Alexander “Lee” McQueen came to the Visionaire office to discuss collaborating on an issue that ultimately never happened. One day, the staff was discussing a potential issue printed on seeded paper, and the next day, news came that McQueen, one of the most brilliant creative minds of our time, had passed away. The team took this as a sign and dedicated SPIRIT to him. The issue set out to commemorate McQueen’s life and career by publishing the imagery that had defined it.
Fei Fei Sun made history as the first Asian model to grace the cover of Vogue Italia (January 2013 issue) and fittingly the fashion team lead by photographer Steven Meisel used legendary model China Machado as inspiration for the editorial. China was the first non-Caucasian model to grace the cover of Harper’s Bazaar in 1958.
Leading model Fei Fei Sun enchants in retro-inspired looks, channeling Avedon’s muse. Fashion editor Lori Goldstein did choose a selection of sumptuous pieces from the likes of Valentino, Miu Miu, Gucci and Giorgio Armani for the Chinese beauty to wear. Guido created elegant coifs while makeup artist Pat McGrath was responsible for the brunette’s dramatic eyes.
Franca Sozzani told: “We put Fan Bingbing on the cover of L’Uomo Vogue and we dedicated an entire issue to China. In the past, we’ve done many shoots with Asian girls, with photographers like Peter Lindbergh or Steven Meisel or Craig McDean.” She called this cover by Meisel “extravagant, eccentric, and elegant … showing a new chic mood in fashion and how the Asian girls have a classy and special beauty.”
Louis Vuitton celebrates outgoing creative director Marc Jacobs’ new campaign starring his favorite muses. This campaign is Jacobs’ final one for Vuitton. Portraits of French actress Catherine Deneuve, American director Sofia Coppola, Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen, Chinese actress Fan Bingbing and French model Caroline de Maigret form part of the mix. British model Edie Campbell, who opened Jacobs’ last show and who scooped the Model of the Year prize at this year’s British Fashion Awards, was also cast. Photos were shot by Steven Meisel with makeup by Pat McGrath and hair by Guido Palau.
Roxanne Lowit is one of the pioneers of behind-the-scenes fashion photography as we know it today. “For the first 10 to 15 years I was the only one shooting backstage at all the shows. I had no credentials to begin with but quickly realised that that was my métier, that’s what I found most fascinating.”
The revelation came when she was gifted an Instamatic camera while still attending the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York studying Textile Design. At the time Lowit was a keen painter, but with this new tool discovered a more efficient way of capturing the spirit of her subjects. “I wanted to paint the people I admired but nobody had the time, so I thought I’d take a photograph of them and work from the photograph,” she says. “However, once I took the photograph I realised that I didn’t need to capture the whole soul in a painting. So I traded in my paintbrushes for a camera.”
Her background in textile design became her backstage pass when she was invited by the designers who worked from her patterns to photograph the completed garments before their shows. Eventually word got out that Lowit’s images were something worth publishing, and in 1978 she was contacted by Annie Flanders from the SoHo News. “She heard that I was going to Paris so she said ‘if you get a real camera I’ll use your pictures when you get back’. I learnt how to put film in a real camera on the plane on the way over. Next thing I was on the top of the Eiffel Tower shooting with Yves Saint Laurent and Andy Warhol. It was all downhill from there because how could it get any better?”
But things did get better, much better. After that first trip to Paris doors flung open for Lowit and her career as a backstage fashion photographer gained swift momentum. As industry insiders came to know and love her, the invitations to the parties flooded in, which was where much of the magic happened in front of Lowit’s lens. The 80s were heady times for fashion and she was always there, stationed in the fray, ready to catch the fanfare, frivolities and outright excess as it happened. “It was phenomenal,” she recalls. “We had the Supermodels and all those designers who loved the Supermodels. There were great parties – Elton John was always there and all sorts of celebrities started coming to the shows and parties.”
These days Lowit finds the more homogenised collections produced by contemporary designers as a result of an increasingly commercialised fashion industry much less inspiring, but revels in rising to the challenge all the same. “I usually play a game with myself, how good can I make this look?” she laughs. “But really it’s just about taking a great picture and finding a great moment. It’s always exciting to think, where am I going to go and what am I going to shoot next?”For the fashion designers themselves, as Lowit recalls, it was a time of tremendous creative freedom, where their unique artistic vision was nurtured by the industry and experimentation was encouraged. The shows, it seems, were less about selling clothes and more about the artistry, theatre and spectacle of it all. “It was so much more creative back then. You didn’t need a name at the end of the runway to know who it was you were watching,” she tells me. “When you saw long red nails with vampish clothes and great big hair you knew it was Thierry Mugler. When you saw flower dresses and a girl on a horse you knew you were at Kenzo. Stripes and knits, you were at Sonia Rykiel.”
Lowit gets a kick out of shooting just about anyone who gets a kick out of being shot. “All the pictures I’ve taken are important to me. They’re all like my children. It’s always the next image I look forward to. But looking back I think my favourites are the ones where the people just enjoyed having their picture taken – they were just having a good time. That’s really when I can capture something great.”
Madame X or Portrait of Madame X is the informal title of a portrait painting by John Singer Sargent of a young socialite named Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau, wife of Pierre Gautreau. The model was an American expatriate who married a French banker, and became notorious in Parisian high society for her beauty and rumored infidelities. She wore lavender powder and prided herself on her appearance.
Madame X was painted not as a commission, but at the request of Sargent. It is a study in opposition. Sargent shows a woman posing in a black satin dress with jeweled straps, a dress that reveals and hides at the same time. The portrait is characterized by the pale flesh tone of the subject contrasted against a dark colored dress and background.
For Sargent, the scandal resulting from the painting’s controversial reception at the Paris Salon of 1884 amounted to the failure of a strategy to build a long-term career as a portrait painter in France, though it may have helped him establish a successful career in Britain and America.
Renowned for her beauty, Gautreau represented the parisienne, a new type of Frenchwoman recognized for her sophistication. The English-language term “professional beauty”, referring to a woman who uses personal skills to advance to elite status, was also used to describe her. Her unconventional beauty made her an object of fascination for artists; the American painter Edward Simmons claimed that he “could not stop stalking her as one does a deer.” Sargent was also impressed, and anticipated that a portrait of Gautreau would garner much attention at the upcoming Paris Salon, and increase interest in portrait commissions. He wrote to a friend:
“I have a great desire to paint her portrait and have reason to think she would allow it and is waiting for someone to propose this homage to her beauty. If you are ‘bien avec elle’ and will see her in Paris, you might tell her I am a man of prodigious talent.”
Although she had refused numerous similar requests from artists, Gautreau accepted Sargent’s offer in February 1883.Sargent was an expatriate like Gautreau, and their collaboration has been interpreted as motivated by a shared desire to attain high status in French society.
A figure study of Madame Gautreau in watercolor and graphite, John Singer Sargent, circa 1883
Little progress was made during the winter of 1883, as Gautreau was distracted by social engagements, and was not by nature inclined to the discipline of sitting for a portrait. At her suggestion, Sargent traveled to her estate in Brittany in June, where he commenced a series of preparatory works in pencil, watercolors, and oils. About thirty drawings resulted from these sessions, in which many poses were attempted.
Gautreau was bored by the process of sitting; here, too, there were social engagements, as well as the responsibilities of tending to her four-year-old daughter, her mother, house guests, and a full domestic staff. Sargent complained of “the unpaintable beauty and hopeless laziness of Madame Gautreau.”
Julianne Moore photographed by Peter Lindbergh, 2008
For Spring 2008 Christian Dior Haute couture collection, John Galliano’s primrose path of inspiration had, he said, wended its way from John Singer Sargent’s Madame X through to the gilded swirls and bejeweled geometrics of Gustav Klimt.
Elsa Peretti in a Halston-designed Bunny costume, photographed by Helmut Newton in New York City, 1975
Playboy-inspired logo bathing suit
* The Last Flapper is the title of a play written by William Luce. It is based on Zelda Fitzgerald’s life.
In her formative years, Monica Bellucci’s most intimate desire was to follow in the footsteps of Gina Lollobrigida, Silvana Mangano, Anna Magnani and Sophia Loren, four Italian muses that, (as she finally also achieved) became magnificent actresses in their country and abroad. Monica began her modeling career at Elite+ Models Agency working with several important brands like Revlon.
Legendary filmmaker Dino Risi (who directed movies starring by Monica Vitti, Sophia Loren and Ornella Mutti) offered her a leading role in 1990’s Vita coi Figli. Francis Ford Coppola, after watching photos of her in a portfolio offered her a small but arresting cameo in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992). Bellucci played one of Dracula’s brides who, in one particularly erotic scene, practically devoured Jonathan Harker, the fictional character performed by Keanu Reeves.
By that time, Steven Meisel made this Dolce Gabbana’s Spring Summer Collection 1992 Ad Campaign inspired by La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini, 1960), depicting playful mischief and self-indulgence behaviors along glittery outfits. The collection higlighted the trends of that season: short dresses, embroidered accents, bustiers with lifelike flowers, along with D&G’s stylistic signatures over the years, lingerie, lace and so on.
Isabella Rossellini began her career as a model at 28, photographed by Bruce Weber for British Vogue. From 1982 to 1996, she became the exclusive face of Lancôme. Around October 1992, Rossellini made appearances in two of Madonna’s projects: her outrageous book Sex and the Erotica music video.
That same year, in Death Becomes Her (Robert Zemeckis, 1992) she played Lisle, a mysterious, wealthy socialite who seems to be in her thirties. However, Lisle discloses her true age as 71, and reveals to Madeline (Meryl Streep) the secret of her beauty: a potion that promises eternal life and an ever-lasting youthful appearance. It has been said that after her appearance in that film, Lancôme was considering not renewing their contract with Rossellini.
The comedic film, Cactus Flower (Gene Saks, 1969) marked the return of Ingrid Bergman (Isabella Rossellini’s mother) to the movies. This, her first role in a comedy, garnered critical praise. Goldie Hawn won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
The phrase “Music has Charms to soothe a savage Breast” was coined by the Playwright and Poet William Congreve, in The mourning bride, 1697
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