On Tuesday, September 3rd, a legend passed away: photographer Peter Lindbergh, who was famous for capturing a certain freedom and personality with his camera. Other lensmen favored the glossy lacquer of fashion; Lindbergh captured candid, in-the-moment snapshots. He's one of our favorite photographers and the portrait above, one of our favorites of all time.
The image is simple enough: model Michaela Bercu, all smiles and wind-swept hair, wearing stone-washed denim Guess jeans and a black Christian Lacroix jacket embellished with a gemstone cross. But think about when the magazine came out: November 1988. The image, so modern today, was absolutely revolutionary back then—a seismic shift from the studied formality that was the publishing norm.
This marked the first time—gasp!—jeans appeared on a Vogue cover and the first time anyone mixed high-low in such a brazen manner: $50 jeans with a $10,000 jacket. Also radical: the fact that the model was peering, eyes half-closed, off to the side and not straight at the reader. Even the magazine's printers called asking if there was a mistake. "I couldn’t blame them," Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour recalled years later, adding that the photograph was partially the result of happenstance. Bercu couldn't fit into the matching Lacroix skirt; she had gained a little weight from a recent vacation to her native Israel. "Not that that mattered. In fact, it only served to reinforce the idea to take couture's haughty grandeur and playfully throw it headlong into real life and see what happened."
Everything about the image, styled by Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, is perfection. But what we loved, really, was the spirit the image captured: "It's so American," says the Veronicas, "refreshing, joyful and natural."
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