After a Fashion

The passing of two style icons is observed

Helmut Newton
Helmut Newton

THE PASSING OF THE GODS In the first month of 2004, the world has mourned the deaths of two icons of fashion photography – two men whose views of beauty through the lens shaped how we viewed the world. For more than 50 years, Francesco Scavullo and Helmut Newton were masters of the extreme, introducing sexuality, androgyny, and a complete reversal of the standard roles of women to magazine readers around the world. The models were women who might have appeared as "sex objects" but never let you forget that they were in control of their own destinies. For better or for worse, photographer Scavullo was most famous for his Cosmopolitan covers, shooting them for 30 years. His pouting, glossed models in their no-holds-barred ensembles created the look of the Seventies with beauties like Rene Russo, Jerry Hall, and Lauren Hutton. His photographs have also graced the covers of magazines such as Rolling Stone, Life, Time, Town & Country, Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, Mademoiselle, Glamour, Harpers & Queen, and L'Officiel. He has shot many movie posters, such as the famous A Star Is Born poster with Barbra Streisand that became required artwork in the homes of the gay elite in the Seventies. He did many album covers including Edgar Winter's They Only Come out at Night where Winters is shown in full drag make-up. His portraits of cultural figures spanned every field of fashion, the arts, and society. He made Gia into an icon, capturing her wildness, and years later shot Cindy Crawford portraying Gia. He shot Janis Joplin, taking her from behind her raucous public persona and turning her into the coy, sensitive beauty she always wanted to be. He discovered Brooke Shields when she was 11 years old. He shot Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Gloria Vanderbilt, and the entire Warhol cortege – indelible images that deftly captured the eras in which they were shot, and raising the standards of photographic beauty forever – not unlike his contemporary Helmut Newton. "Helmut Newton was the reason I became a photographer," said Austin's own Andrew Shapter. "The eroticism he injected into every photo inspires me even now." For photographer Todd Wolfson, it was something else: "It was the environments he created within his photographs that moved me so much. Yes, the models were strong, and yes, the sexual energy was obvious, but it was the environments he created for his subjects that made his work so amazing." The photos he did that were used in the 1978 movie Eyes of Laura Mars were spectacular, eye-opening images entwining fashion, sex, and violence in a way that today would raise the hackles of many during this time of absurd political correctness – and yet his photos championed the independence and power of women. The photos could be as perverse as they were stunning – one element feeding another to create photographic synergy. Barely escaping the Nazis, Newton and his Germanic sensibilities defined eras. A 1974 portrait showed his wife June wearing a Hitler-esque mustache, with the deliriously beautiful Jerry Hall as Eva Braun. His women were as seductive as they were intimidating, imbued by Newton with power and a dark sense of danger. Seeing the glorious Nadja Auermann modeling swimwear on a gorgeous terrace in the south of France and using orthopedic devices such as neck braces, leg braces, and canes was a combination of stunning beauty and a lavish setting – absolute perfection – accented with medical accoutrements belying the perfection and taking the layout beyond the realm of fashion and into the arena of pure art. Newton and Scavullo worshipped women – each in his own separate way, each with an approach that was entirely his own. Bon voyage, gentlemen – and thank you for the magnificent gifts you left behind.

ON THE TOWN Tonight, Thursday, Feb. 5, 9pm, at Tambaleo (302 Bowie), is a fashion show featuring clothing and accessories from Flirt, Luxe Apothetique, and Trio. Admission is free. Call Mel at 736-4643 for more info... The wonderful Le Garage Sale happens this weekend at Davenport Village, featuring clearance items from Big Red Sun, By George, Crofts, Fetish, Garden Room, Mariposa Kids, Physical Fit, Pure West Jewelry, Scarbrough's, Shiki, and Wildflowers – Friday, Feb. 6, 1-9pm, admission $10; Saturday, Feb. 7, 10am-6pm, admission $5, no dressing rooms, cash/check only. Stay tuned for Le Garage Sale Home, Feb. 19-21... The Wilde Party at Zach Scott last week was wonderful, with more attendees than ever, and did good work for Zach Scott and Austin's gay and lesbian youth. The party was followed by a performance of Always ... Patsy Cline, during which my editor, the garrulous Kate Messer (editor's note: Pot. Kettle. Black), and I were riveted to our seats by the performance of Jessica Welch as Patsy and one show-stopping number after another. Run, do not walk, to Zach Scott, and get your tickets now.

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