Although the word icon has become somewhat redundant over the years, it is still an important one for Claudia Schiffer. The German-born model, along with peers like Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington, defined the style and look of the fashion world. fashionIn the 1990s. They were seen gracing runways and gliding around New York City in what is now called the “The 1990s.” “model-off-duty”style, their very existence as fashionThe most iconic faces of the world have made an unstoppable impact.
With nostalgia for the?90sSchiffer, at an all-time high, captures the era in its original glory with her new coffee-table book, Captivate! Prestel Publishing will publish Fashion Photography from the 1990’s on November 30. It includes images by photographers like Herb Ritts (Kar Lagerfeld), Peter Lindbergh, Mario Sorrenti and Ellen von Unwerth as well as never before seen images from Schiffer’s own archive.
In addition to the book, Schiffer curated a photo exhibition at the Kunstpalast Art Museum in Düsseldorf, Germany, on display until September 2022. Both projects celebrate the importance of photography. “glamour and extravagance, intimacy and playfulness, and sexy and provocative styles”That was not only what defined the industry, but also the ’90sAs a whole.
Below, Schiffer talks about Captivate! Schiffer talks about how Captivate! came to be, and some of her most memorable memories. fashion’s favorite decade.
What are your fondest memories of the?90s?
The Valentino campaign in Rome, with Arthur Elgort, was one of the most spectacular shoots. This was a great example of how Elgort allowed stories unfold in real life. The shot was taken from the original. [Federico] Fellini’s iconic film La Dolce Vita, and I played the role of Sylvia. We attracted more attention throughout the day until art finally imitated life: We were chased by crowds and paparazzi through the streets, just like Sylvia in the movie. One balcony scene saw a group of people form below me. When I tried to wave at them, they chanted my name. It was surreal.
Another favorite memory is my time in Paris with Ellen von Unwerth, a German photographer. We were both just starting out and quickly became friends. I was wearing my own clothes while we muck around at the Centre Pompidou. The Guess team saw the photos and asked us to be part of the Guess Jeans ad campaign. Revlon called me shortly afterwards to ask me to be the Guess’s first perfume face. I can vividly recall flying across the U.S. to sign in department stores. These events attracted large crowds and I was invited to appear on all the major TV programs, including Jay Leno and Oprah. After the campaign tour, my apartment was near Central Park in New York. I was still sleepy and had bedhead hair when, one morning, a stranger entered my elevator and asked me questions. “Are you the Guess girl?”My life had changed for the better.
Claudia Schiffer, Rome 1995, Valentino. Image © Arthur Elgort.
What do you think made that decade so special? “captivating,” as you put it, and why is it something we’re still trying so hard to re-create?
The 1990s were a pivotal time in the history of beauty. fashion. Campaigns were a valuable part of visual culture. fashionPhotography was a new democratic art form. The competition for global campaigns was fierce. Consider Kate Moss by Mario Sorrenti for Calvin Klein, with art director Fabien Baron—these campaigns became part of the style conversation.
The global appetite for food was the catalyst for the boom. fashion and the range of media, from MTV to legacy magazines, including Vogue and Harper’s BAZAAR, to a new guard of style titles such as The Face, Self Service, i-D and V Magazine. The ’90sThis was the birth of the supermodel, but also the star stylist, photographer, or designer. Then came the fashionYou can! Wearing a Chanel jacket with vintage jeans, body-con Alaïa dresses and sneakers, Marc Jacobs’s grunge or a Helmut Lang suit—it was high-low mix that was individual, fun, and cool.
Innovation and experimentation were the main ingredients. That’s hard to beat, and it really resonates with now, when so many young creatives are collaborating and doing things—building from the ground up.
Doug Ordway “Golden Girls”: Emma Sjöberg, Nadja Auermann, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Ève Salvail, Shalom Harlow, Carla Bruni, Olga Pantushenkova, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Yasmeen Ghauri, Amber Valletta, Tricia Helfer, Helena Christensen, backstage at Versace RTW Fall 1994. Image © Doug Ordway.
What has changed in the 20-year-old whirlwind that was runway shows and nonstop shooting? How has the industry changed over time?
The industry has grown beyond what I could have imagined. There are more brands and collections, and the pace is faster. Social media has had a tremendous impact. It’s been great for marketing fashionSocial media is a great way to manage your exposure for beauty and cosmetic products as well as models. The downside to big exposure is the pressure to share everything. You could still have your private life in the 1990s.
Since the birth and rise of social media fashionIt has seen a significant sea change. What’s interesting is to see is the rise of the influencer. There’s so much talent today that is diverse in race, age, and, increasingly, size. No one has ever championed individuality and the expression of personal style and expression like they have in the past. The nonprofessional models are a valuable source of inspiration for both their peers and for designers. It’s so healthy to see such diversity in faces and styles.
Models can now be true polymaths and enter fields like activism and sustainability. fashionThey can pursue multiple careers, including design, technology, acting, and well-being. The supermodels are the best example. There is no such thing as a supermodel. “aging” out—look at Naomi Campbell; Kate Moss; Amber Valletta; or Cindy Crawford and her daughter, Kaia [Gerber]; Georgina Grenville; Carolyn Murphy; and myself—we all continue to work. Curating a show or editing a book is an exciting and fulfilling endeavor.
Roxanne Lowit – Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista in Paris, 1990. Image © Roxanne Lowit.
Juergen Teller – Young Pink Kate, London, 1998. Image © Juergen Teller, All Rights Reserved.
The ’90sThey are often described by being “anonymous.” “iconic” time—in fashionMusic, pop culture, and all things related to music. What is iconic to you?
Let’s face it, no fashionPhotographs can be considered iconic from the moment they are taken. This status is only earned over time. Fashion photography is a great way to capture trends and dreams. Although it may be born in the moment, it can become timeless and tell a larger story. For me, that was what was so exciting about the research—pinpointing these amazing moments that still resonate today. Many of the most memorable images challenge our conceptions of femininity and are provocative. Look at Juergen Teller’s work; he makes you see beauty in a different way.
When curating the exhibition, I always asked myself: Is this quintessentially ’90s? And does the image truly represent the individual photographer’s eye? The selection process was completely driven by aesthetics. I asked these questions repeatedly as I selected 150 images from literally thousands of images. Where the 1980s was defined by perfectionist high glamour, the ’90sIt was about energy, reality and personality. I was looking for timeless images that could be used today and transcend time. I’m so happy and proud that we were able to secure many of these images—it is the first time many of these photographers, models, and talents have been shown together in a group show. And I really wanted the exhibition to be a celebration of the breadth of creativity that was witnessed in the ’90sAcross the entire runway, campaigns, as well as fashionEditorial
Roxanne Lowit – Christy Turlington, Roxanne Moss, backstage at Isaac Mizrahi Los Angeles 1994. Image © Roxanne Lowit.
Kristy Hume, Nadja Auermann, Nadège du Bospertus, Claudia Schiffer, Carla Bruni, Christy Turlington, Shalom Harlow, and Brandi Quinones, 1994. Image Credit: Michel Comte Estate/AIM AG.
What other projects are you working on?
I’m very lucky to love what I do, so design collaborations and curating roles felt like a natural next step for me. The Kunstpalast is not the only place I work at. “Captivate!” fashionI co-curated a photography show, and I collaborated with Bordallo Pinheiro and Vista Alegre to create a glassware/ceramics collection. These collections were launched last year and will be updated in 2022. I love learning about the craftsmanship of these artisans and creating shapes and motifs.
I also have just collaborated with the lovely brand Réalisation Par that I discovered via my daughter Clementine. The range is out now and is very much inspired by the ’90sThese are the kinds of pieces I wore on a daily basis. I looked into my archive collection and found silk slipdresses, daisy prints, and a classic black-and-white microdot—these finds were the starting point.
Claudia Schiffer. Image Lucie McCullin © 2021 Cloudy Film Limited.
What advice would you offer yourself if you looked back on that time period? Both professionally and personally
Modeling opened up a world for me and introduced me so many amazing creative minds. I learned a lot from photography. fashionI have no regrets about design, business, or me. Every decision, good or bad, has brought me to where and what I am now. I’ve always been tenacious, though; I trust my instincts, and I think that’s been important to my success. Your intuition is always right. The more you age, the more difficult it will be to hear it. Wisdom and experience can become louder.
I’d also say to someone starting out, take pride in being professional—working hard, being punctual, polite, and disciplined. A good lawyer is essential from the start. Know your goals and where you want them to be. You must have a long-term vision and never lose heart. Also, treat everyone as you would like to be treated and don’t be scared to make mistakes; as long as you learn from them, you will be okay.
Captivate!Fashion Photography from the90s
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