Monday, July 6, 2009
VERUSCHKA: MODEL AS MUSE
I came across a vintage Playboy recently and found a story on the supermodel from the 60's and 70's Veruschka. Like most people, I first saw Veruschka in the first 5 minutes of Michelangelo Antonioni's film "Blow Up." Of course she looks amazing, but is way more interesting than the pouty writhing model she portrays in the film. Veruschka is one of the coolest supermodels ever because she wanted to escape her own appearance as much as possible. She was an artist herself and was heavily involved in the production of the photographs. She would paint her entire body in order to transform herself into wild animals and her surroundings. She endured long hours of body paint application, done mostly by herself, (once with black shoe polish!) and preferred doing the most extreme shoots and poses like climbing tall trees in Africa to resemble a panther, or burying herself in a pile of heavy stones.
Veruschka was born Vera Gottliebe Anna Grafin von Lehnorff-Steinort in East Prussia to wealthy German parents. Her father was a key member of the German resistance and his involvement in the attempted assassination of Hitler ended in his execution and his family's new home being a concentration camp until the end of the war. Vera studied art and moved to Florence where she was discovered by the photographer Ugo Mulas in 1959. Standing at 6 feet 1 inch tall, she was originally told she was too tall to be a model in Paris and upon her first trip to NY had trouble getting booked for jobs. She decided to create a new mysterious persona and change her name to "Veruschka" to distinguish herself as a model. She moved back to NY and visited all the top photographers and would say "I am Veruschka who comes from the border between Russia, Germany, and Poland. I'd like to see what you can do with my face."
In 1975 she decided to leave the fashion world for the art world because Vogue wanted her to change her image into a more mainstream approachable look for the average woman...FUCK THAT!
Here she is as the first black President of the United States. She said she wanted to be sure he looked "proud and secure in himself." RULES!