Under Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, Henry Clarke broke the mold of 50s-era, black and white propriety with powerfully alive images like this iconic photograph of Veruschka from the January 1, 1965, Vogue. The famed model strikes a dramatic pose in a kaleidoscopic, hooded Emilio Pucci caftan on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania.
Since the early 60s, the world's most prominent photographers have worked with Vera Lehndorff under her modeling pseudonym, Veruschka. Veruschka was born in 1939 in East Prussia (now known as Kalingrad, Russia) as Vera Gottliebe Anna Gräfin von Lehndorff-Steinort.
Today, many Veruschka images are legendary. But Veruschka was not simply considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world (by Richard Avedon), she was also the visible personification of the liberation of the model from the male-dominated viewpoint of the artist.
Not unlike other performers of her era, Vera Lehndorff soon began working on the reversal of expectations of physical perfection. In 1975, Veruschka departed from the fashion industry due to disagreements with Grace Mirabella, the newly appointed editor-in-chief of Vogue. In 1985, she entered the art world, putting on a body-painting show in Tribeca; on her naked body, she was painted with different "outfits," transforming her into wild animals and several archetypes, such as film stars, dandies and gangsters. Occasionally, she still appears on catwalks.
The fashion world fosters an ongoing fascination with Veruschka's 60s persona. The makeup brand MAC sells a lipstick called Verushka (I bought my first tube circa 1992 - I'm not sure if they still make it), and there are boutiques named after her, yet she is detached from any hype. Asked if she misses the glamour of modeling, Veruschka replies, “No. I have my own drama and glamour. As long as I am here, it is not gone.”
(2.) I can't source this Vogue shot. Sorry. But the light and color are so powerful, I had to include it here. (3.) Franco Rubartelli shot this photograph in Rome for the April 1, 1969, Vogue. The print tunic and pants are both by Valentino. Veruschka also sports a two-tier hairpiece. Yes, that's a yellow Maserati Ghirli driving by in the background. (4.) Veruschka sits in a round entryway in this Henry Clarke photograph, which appeared in the November 1, 1966, Vogue. She wears a striped full-length wool coat over a striped chiffon dress, both from Valentino. (5.) Franco Rubartelli captures a futuristic yet luxurious look in this beauty shot of Veruschka, his then girlfriend, wrapped in strands of her own hair, eyelashes trimmed with sparkling stones, and face framed in Plexiglas with hanging crystals. The image appeared in the May 1, 1968, Vogue.
Mes beaux amis, I hope that Veruschka will hold your attention for a while. I'm taking another hiatus. 'Til we meet again. Obamanos!
: condé nast