See rare photos of 90s supermodels
Photographer Arthur Elgort's book ‘I Love…’ is a tribute to powerful women including Kate Moss, Christy Turlington, and Naomi Campbell.
Photos by Arthur Elgort.
After decades in the industry, fashion photographer Arthur Elgort has taken his fair share of iconic images. He made his debut in British Vogue in 1971 and at 79-years-old, he’s still photographing today. Elgort’s oeuvre of unforgettable images includes a triumphant Christy Turlington striding across the Parisian rooftops of the Hôtel de Crillon in Christian LaCroix and a bikini-clad Kate Moss grocery shopping in Los Angeles in colorful swimwear. Elgort’s “snapshot” style images capture a particular kind of energy and movement and are only made stronger by his impeccable cast of talent. After all, he practically discovered Turlington and he was one of the first few to photograph Moss.
In his latest book, I Love..., Elgort celebrates the many powerful women he’s captured throughout his career including Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Grace Coddington, (who he even photographed for i-D!) and many more. It’s “in homage to their power, their beauty, their joy, and their strength.” The book spans Elgort’s career, from the 70s to today. The photographer mined his many editorials and campaigns for the likes of Chanel, Valentino, Yves Saint Laurent, and Karl Lagerfeld, to select the best “in-between” moments. “Not the real shot,” he says.
From there, they were handed over to his friend and frequent collaborator, the late photographer and graphic designer Steve Hiett. He put I Love… together in Paris, in a similarly vibrant style to Elgort’s first book Models Manual. It was the last thing Hiett worked on before his death earlier this year. Even though the book features some of the greatest models of all time in their golden age, it’s also a very personal work — including photos of Elgort’s wife, daughter, granddaughter, and other important women in his life. Here, Elgort tells i-D about how it came together and some of the most memorable moments he’s documented.
This is the second book you’ve worked on with Steve Hiett. How did this one come together?
It started with a lot of pictures. Maybe 300 pictures. I said, ‘You pick what you want, then do it yourself. If I miss a shot, it'll be fine. Don't worry. You pick it, and pick the cover too.’ He picked Susan Holmes.
It makes for a nice cover.
It’s different. It was funny, originally it was going to be called Girls, but the same publisher had another book called Girls. In fact, it was my old assistant Pamela Hanson. We couldn't use that. But that's all right. Everybody does girls. If you do fashion, you do Oscar de la Renta or a new designer, it's girls. Anybody could use the name. But then Steve and Marianna [Houtenbos] said, ‘This is better. Love.’ And that's what we called it.
[Steve] was here. A year ago, we started it. He went back to Paris and he got cancer. He laid in bed and did the book there. In bed. It was the last thing he did before he died. This is the book that he produced. He picked the pictures. It's very colorful. We said it would be the same size as Models Manuel. I'm very pleased with it. It was a lot of pictures that were in between, not the real shot.
The photo of Kate Moss pushing the shopping cart is one of the more recognizable images. What’s the story behind it?
[I took it] in Los Angeles. We stayed at a crummy hotel and it was next to a supermarket, like a big supermarket. The editor was Brana Wolf, who is famous in Australia. She had a style and she said, ‘You're going to the supermarket and buy anything you want. Here's the money. Just make believe you're shopping.’ That's how we walked around. Kate enjoyed herself.
And this one of Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista? Did you take this photo here in the studio?
Yeah, it was here. That's a very funny story because my son was born that day. I was supposed to just get Christy. But because I had to go back to the hospital, Linda said, ‘I can help you.’ Of course, she stole the show as usual. I did it, I would say, in an hour.
This one’s Jerry Hall. It was just me and her. She said, ‘I know the picture I want. You come to my house. I already posed it already.’ I said, ‘No problem.’ We went and she lived on Central Park West. Jerry did this. She curled her own hair. And that was that. Then she saw it and said, ‘You know, I think I'm a good stylist.’
Who were some of your favorite people to photograph?
They're in the book! Now I have a new favorite. She's in British Vogue. The girl's name is Fran Summers. She's a genius. I would say she's the best model around now. There are always good models. I thought Suzy Parker and Jean Shrimpton were the best. I never met them because I was too young at the time. But this one, I would say, is the best model now.
You worked with many of the original supermodels. Kate. Naomi. Christy. All of them. What was it like working with them on set?
I was their judge. I felt I helped them, and they helped me. Christy Turlington was with Ford Models. I said, ‘I think this girl. She's the next Jean Shrimpton.’ I call the agent up or Marianna called her up and said, ‘We'd like to book her for the next week because we think she's going to be big.’ And I remember the woman on the phone said, ‘You think she's good? We have so many better girls in there.’ I said, ‘I'll take Christy Turlington.’ And I never heard of the rest of them anyway.
Then Linda, she was in Paris. I saw [her] and I said, ‘That is a terrific girl.’ You can see she's funny and she laughs all the time. Then she can be serious. And she did well.
Did you ever have a similar breakthrough moment in your career?
There was a magazine called Mademoiselle. I thought they took a chance on me. They didn't know me. They saw my pictures and they said, ‘What would you like to do?’ I said, ‘Hangouts. Like Katz Delicatessen and the Horn & Hardart.’ It came out well. Then they sent me to Barbados and this one and that one. Then [Alexander] Liberman, who used to be the head of Conde Nast, called me into his office and he said, ‘Arthur, you're doing too well for Mademoiselle. It's not right. You're making me look bad and I'm a Vogue-y guy." I said, ‘That's simple. I'll work for Vogue. How about that?’ He said, ‘That's a very good idea.’ Then I did the pictures of Lisa [Taylor] riding across the bridge and back. They liked that.