Steven Meisel


Rising Star
Jan 26, 2012
What are your favorites of Meisel's photography?

One of the most famous and influential photographers in the fashion world. He has the touch of magic, anybody who impresses Meisal is automatically successful most of the time, like Daria Werbowy for example.

I remember 3030398094733 years ago this caught my memory and was one of my favorite photoshoots:

Vogue US September 2004
Models of the Moment.





What are your favorites of Meisel's photography?
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I can't say on top of my head since I'm bad with recognizing which ones belong to which photographers but I did a quick google search and I like these ones :).




Even though this caused controversy, I absolutely adore this photo.

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Meisel always finds fresh ways to see things and is constantly coming up with amazing images. His advertising work is of the same amazing quality as his editorial stuff. His campaigns are the ones that make you buy magazines FOR the ads.:grin:

Fashion’s ultimate enigma has had Vogue Italia’s cover under his spell for the past twenty years, nonstop. Considered the world’s greatest fashion photographer, a rare interview gets us just that much closer to finding out:



In 1930 Eric Salomon photographed Marlene Dietrich in the most candid way: slumped in bed while on the phone, a pose totally and disarmingly natural. Although Steven Meisel and I spoke two Sundays in a row, we never met face to face and I was left to visualize our conversation on my own. The voice of countless magazine and advertisement pages, of cool constructed beauty; perhaps the voice of fashion itself, or at the very least its timekeeper for nearly a quarter century, materialized over the telephone and it was, like that photo of Dietrich, unexpectedly candid, grizzled, and warm.

“When I met Steven I was struck by his beauty: what a beautiful man, beautiful skin and beautiful cheekbones; he hasn’t changed!” Naomi Campbell tells me, bubbling. Another long-time friend of Meisel’s, designer Anna Sui, remembers their first encounter vividly: “He had such a presence and was so amazing to look at. I thought ‘I have to be friends with this guy right away!’” Outside his circle, Meisel is said to be enigmatic and secretive, appearing in public under the defensive line of a hat, scarf, dark glasses, and long black hair, from which only a hint of makeup or a crafted eyebrow escapes. The look evokes associations as numerous as the women who have posed for his camera. Like Manuel Puig’s storyteller in Kiss of the Spider Woman, there is little doubt that Meisel understands the lives, the umbra, penumbra, and scintillating facets of legendary women in a way that very few men can touch. In a 1999 interview with photography critic Vince Aletti, Madonna called her dear friend a diva (just like her), recognizing Meisel’s communion with women of magnetism and beauty — a mutual reinforcement that has proven itself over time.

Early in his career Steven Meisel did not photograph women for a living; he drew them at Women’s Wear Daily where he sat next to veteran fashion illustrator Kenneth Paul Block. In the ’70s the fashion trade journal still used illustrations on its cover, as certain department stores did for advertising, like Lord & Taylor. Meisel remembers his office companion fondly, who regaled him with firsthand stories of Jackie Onassis and the real Coco Chanel. Meisel enjoyed the regularity and security of his desk job and he relished his task, also teaching two nights a week at Parsons where he had studied illustration. But something else was calling, which had announced itself before. As a teenager he had spotted Saint Laurent-muse Loulou de la Falaise, and cover model Marisa Berenson living across the street from his high school stomping ground. For them, he had taken out a camera. In fact he even made a habit of staking out the modeling agencies for a brief chance at capturing those wonderful women, like a “paparazzi” Meisel has said. During our conversations, Meisel confided that unlike many of his peers today he doesn’t constantly carry a camera. “When I think about it, am I really a fashion photographer?” The answer to that seems easy enough, unless of course you are Steven Meisel. In truth, the answer Meisel points to in his work starts sometime around 1979 when the world began to see his future and its fuller, more complex, and provocative figure.

In September of that year Meisel appeared on Glenn O’Brien’s TV Party, a new wave variety show airing on a New York public-access channel. On TV Meisel was dressed in black with the bandana and rocker hair that would become his trademark. Anna Sui also remembers a leather jacket with silver studs and motorcycle boots in those days, an overall look that is still her “favorite thing for men.” On the day of Meisel’s cameo, Glenn O’Brien chants, “Why give up?” with a portrait of Lenin to his side that has been mischievously retouched; and continues, “There are plenty of things anybody can do to make themselves look better. And believe me, if you think that’s some sort of effete attitude, you’re wrong. Because it’s the beginning of social action.” The audience then greets the show’s beauty expert (Steven Meisel) who will perform a miraculous makeover for a woman named Sherrie Morales. By the end of the episode Meisel has transformed a sullen looking hillbilly into a clownish rendition of International Velvet (Warhol’s Susan Bottomly), complete with a sultry fur stole and big hair, though her painted face also suggested a send-up of a Vreeland cover girl. What’s more is that Sherrie’s country twang, which sounded completely fake, is gone. Meisel has pulled off a grand camp finale, where a mere change of wardrobe has triggered a change in personality. It is a comic outcome that gratifies a familiar but no less serious desire at the heart of fashion: self-realization the easy way, through style. The effect is not only pleasantly mesmerizing, but it is also disturbingly laughable. No surprise then that Madonna has said, “Steven, like me, likes to fuck with people.”

Much of Meisel’s most recent work fucks with fashion and its superstitions, wish fulfillment, self-loathing, and bittersweet fancies. In this work, Meisel is a pictorial satirist, breathing the spirit of William Hogarth, albeit fringed with today’s particular brand of elegance. When his images are allowed to speak, they do so with earnest conviction, as I discovered when I asked him about the recent Vogue Italia issue dedicated to black beauty, in which the spectacular editorials were entirely his:

Steven Meisel: Obviously, I feel that fashion is totally racist. The one thing that taking pictures allows you to do is occasionally make a larger statement. After seeing all the shows though I feel it was totally ineffective. I was curious, because it received a lot of publicity, whether it would have any effect on New York, London, Paris, or Milan; and I found that it did not. They still only had one token black girl, maybe two. It’s the same as it always was and that’s the sad thing for me.

Pierre Alexandre de Looz: Is the industry locked in its tracks?

Someday it might change. But, the designers who in the end choose the models are simply not interested in change.

Yves Saint Laurent was a pioneer for casting black models and it’s as if his death marks a narrowing perspective.

Fashion was much more open in the ’70s, and even in the ’80s, which is insane. Today, it’s totally closed down and worse than it has ever been. Look at your ads and you don’t see any black girls, maybe once in a blue moon. Look at editorials; once in a while they allow it. And on the runways they just replace one with another. That’s all I saw in all of the cities. It is very disheartening.

Speaking of an inspirational past, it seems you wanted to re-write the history of fashion photography with the “Black Beauty” issue. It’s as if you asked, “What would it look like if Horst, Avedon, or Scavullo had shot these black models?
First, the whole issue was shot in only three days – that’s the other thing that people don’t understand. Three days is long in terms of editorials. American Vogue is a day or two. Three is considered way over budget. I had to work very quickly. Some of the shoots were just a day, double shoots on top of it all. I shot the issue in LA where I’ve been for a while, because it’s a movie town that offers a lot of locations New York doesn’t. There is always a little bit of a story in my head as I am doing it. For “There’s Only One Naomi” I looked at different houses, chose one and was happy it worked out. I did the cover of her that same day, on the porch.

Did you have a big team of people?
I have too many people, tons. I can’t be on every single detail. I hire people to do this and that. They wind up having assistants; and it’s an assistant to an assistant who gets me coffee. But meanwhile I am up in some hill someplace and I still can’t get a cup of coffee. I don’t know what half of them do. There is a certain core team though – the stylist, the photographer, the model, the hair and makeup, the first assistant – who really do the hard, hard work.

And of course there are the magazine editors. You’ve been working with Vogue Italia since 1988 and it really bears your stamp. Why has it been such a fruitful relationship?
In terms of the Vogues that I work for, certainly Vogue Italia is the most lenient and allows me to do more or less what I feel like doing. Not that they don’t also kill things, but that doesn’t happen often; it’s been the most creative outlet that I have. I tend to think Italy is very conservative, which is weird, I know. Franca Sozzani, the editor, gives me room and is extremely supportive. We worked together before Vogue Italia, when she wasn’t yet the editor, on another magazine called Lei. And then there was the men’s version, Per Lui. She really likes what I do and I am grateful.
I can't say I'm much of a fashion connoisseur but once I was reading an article on US Vogue about Meisel and he talked a lot about his parents. How their whole lifestyle and beauty had struck him from an early age, there was a photo, which I can't find now but both of them were gorgeous! It was obvious how their 'look' or whatever had shaped his style and vision. I found him an extremely interesting personality, but I mean it was an article and a shoot dedicated to his 'aura'. I so bought it.

I think this was the piece.

meh, can't find a way to post the pic.:nopity::nopity: computer-stupid i am
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I started paying attention to Meisel on accident. I just started to notice that most of the shoots I fell in love with where his work. He is so talented at both straight forward shoots and of course at the crazy kooky or story telling ones as well.
I love the movement that he captures in his photography. The models look very much alive and dynamic.

F/W 2017 campaign:


His "Joy to the World" shoot also struck some sort of sentimental chord in my heart; the outfits remind me of a much more over-the-top version of those that were worn in "The Nutcracker Ballet" movie (with little Macaulay Culkin). Four-year-old memories, be still my heart.

Anyways, love love love these. I love the motion.





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My all time favourite Miesel
Supermodels Enter Rehab, Vogue Italia July 2007










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