Some of the most iconic fashion images of all time owe their existence to Peter Lindbergh. He single-handedly threw the world of fashion photography into a realm of stripped down, raw, black and white imagery with life and expression. His photography is poetically nonchalant yet cinematic and grandiose.
Lindbergh started out in Berlin’s School of Fine Art before relocating to Paris to kick off his career. His breakthrough came with Vogue in the late 80s; when he was approached to shoot one of the last covers of the decade. His vision was vivid and his style was gritty. He kept his images in high contrast black and white and completely rebuked any ideas of editing or retouching anything he shot.
In the world of fashion, he is often credited for creating the era of supermodels. This, from a 1988 American Vogue shoot where he infamously cast six models to pose candidly for a shot on Santa Monica beach – an unprecedented move at the time. The final image resembled a sun-day-fun-day happy snap and was ultimately rejected by the magazine. It wasn’t until Anna Wintour took over later that year and trolled through the archives that she discovered the masterpiece and ultimately brought it to the forefront of the publication.
Two years later he did it again – this time for British Vogue, finally cementing the concept of supermodels; a surreal entity consisting of the biggest models in the world, all pulled together to form a single tableau. This was the January 1990 British Vogue cover featuring Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Tatjana Patitz, Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington. These women gave rise to a counter culture in the 90s that rejected the made up glossy fashion of the preceding decade.
“This is the birth certificate of the supermodel”
“I was rather uninspired with the way women were photographed in the ’80s. I was trying to photograph them in a different way, but nobody seemed to care back then… I wanted to move away from the rather formal, quite perfectly styled woman who was very artificial,” – Peter Lindbergh (Esquire)
Lindbergh worked less like a photographer and more like a film director, staging and blocking his shoots, looking for three second moments within each shoot to capture. His images resemble that of legendary Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. His earliest influence was the artwork of his idol, Vincent van Gogh, who inspired him significantly and later in his life grew an infatuation with dance which is evident in the orchestration of his shoots.
Of all the things Lindbergh admired – he admired women. He admired their grace, their natural beauty, their radiant souls. He felt he got more passion out of their stillness in a single moment than any other person through an entire performance. His natural alchemy elicited a flow of unabated expression. To celebrate the life of the late Peter Lindbergh here are a selection of images of some spectacular women from all fields of arts and culture.