The mastermind of fashion photography: Steven Meisel

Steven Meisel is clearly one of the greats of fashion photography, being a precious diamond among fashion world. We all know that he is one of Anna Wintour’s favorites and of all time missed Franca Sozzani, as he has come to dominate the Italian fashion industry, shooting every Italian Vogue cover for the last two decades and every PRADA campaign since 2004. Not to forget the W magazine covers & editorials.

Known for his visionary, striking and provocative fashion visuals, Steven Meisel was a passionate since a fragile age, turning a childhood obsession with fashion illustration into such a fine photographic talent that only a chosen few can stand shoulder to shoulder next to Steven in the fashion department.

Working mostly for both Italian and US version of Vogue Magazine, Meisel discovered and popularized a number of influential supermodels, makeup artists and designers, including such names as Ross Van Der Heide, Naomi Campbell, François Nars, Christy Turlington, Laura Mercier and Linda Evangelista. It should also be noted that Steven’s work with Madonna is one of the brightest moments of this photographer’s career.

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He was a passionate since a young age

Steven Meisel was born in New York City during the year of 1954. Ever since an early age, he was fascinated with beauty and models, as reflected by his tireless hobby of drawing women in a notebook which pretty much substituted all toys in his childhood. He used magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar as sources of inspiration for his drawings. Via these publications, Steven became obsessed with models such as Twiggy, Veruschka and Jean Shrimpton.

When he was twelve years of age, Meisel asked some older girlfriends to call model agencies and to pretend that they are the secretaries of Richard Avedon in order to set a meeting with some famous models. By devising this cleverish scheme, Meisel met the famous model Twiggy as the 12-year-old waited for her to arrive at a false meeting outside of the Melvin Sokolsky’s studio. Steven studied classes at the High School of Art and Design, and later at the Parsons The New School for Design where he attended different courses and majored in fashion illustration.

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His favorite editorials remain the ones with a lot of substrate and meanings

My favorites are the ones that allow me to say something: the black issue; the poking fun at celebrities one; the paparazzi thing; the mental institution one; the ones that I have a minute to think about; all the ones that are the most controversial in fact. But it’s not because they are controversial that I like them, but because they say a little more than just a beautiful woman in a beautiful dress. I love that too, but to try and say something is also my goal’, tells Steven Meisel in one of his few interviews for 032c Magazine.

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Steven Meisel x Madonna

On April 14, 2009, Vogue Magazine featured Steven Meisel in an article and described him as the man that taught Madonna about re-invention.

Also Madonna agrees on this afirmation and more than that tells that there is, indeed, ‘a great sense of mystery‘ about Meisel – so much so that after all these years she feels she still doesn’t really know him very well. ‘I know that I love him,’ she says. ‘You get sucked into his aura. He knows things.

Steven Meisel & Madonna, 1992

She learned this from one of their first collaborations, which was for the cover of Like A Virgin. ‘Before I worked with Steven,’ says Madonna, ‘I just showed up in the clothes I was wearing, stood in front of the lights, and got my picture taken. With Steven, a team of people descended on me, started to undress me. Someone grabbed my hair, another grabbed my face, another started helping me try on various bits of clothes, and they all seemed to be speaking a language I didn’t understand – the language of Steven Meisel‘, tells Madonna for Vogue Magazine.

The cover sleeve and album insert images were shot by Steven Meisel. The first shot in this post was used for the album cover. The rest of the photos in this post are outtakes from the same photo shoot.

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