Ellen Von Unwerth, one of fashions most celebrated photographers is responsible for some of the most striking celebrity portraits around. With a desire to photograph women rather than men, she has stated in the past that women are “not just there to be admired, they are there to be enjoyed”. Her new book, Fräulein definitely supports this statement with over 1000 images celebrating the sexiest female icons of our era. Included in the book are (deep breath) Claudia Schiffer, Kate Moss, Vanessa Paradis, Britney Spears, Eva Mendes, Lindsay Lohan, Dita von Teese, Adriana Lima, Carla Bruni, Eva Green, Christina Aguilera and Monica Bellucci among others. As the tag line suggests, definitely not your girls-next-door.
The literal translation of Fräulein is ‘little woman’ and though these women are clearly not little, the images feature them playing a girlish role; there’s Claudia Schiffer cuddling up to her teddy bear provocatively and a group of women eating peaches with their knickers on show. The book has been described as ‘Fashion and fetish in a female fantasyland’, a very accurate statement. Though Von Unwerth’s photographs appear to sexualise women, they are in no way demeaning. The sexual desires they portray are more feminine than masculine, and men very rarely appear in her pictures. In fact, the only position for men to take in these images is that of the voyeur. The majority of Von Unwerth’s pictures display extremely private moments in which the photographer has caught the subject by surprise. In many of the pictures, none of the models are looking at the camera and if they are it is almost like they only realised they were being watched as the shutter clicked.
What makes Von Unwerth stand out from other photographers is the cinematic quality of her images. No matter which photograph you see, it is always possible to imagine a movie playing around this one still image. The pictures tell such a story that the narrative appears to continue, but that one scene is burned into your mind. This is a skill that very few photographers could claim to have, as it involves an amazing imagination and perfect execution. Part of Von Unwerth’s skill as a photographer may be due to her former career as a supermodel. It’s possible that she relaxes her models and helps them enter the fantasy world she has placed them. Whatever it is, Von Unwerth has the ability to create beautiful images of powerful women.
The book, Fräulein is out in December but is limited to 1,500 copies signed by Von Unwerth. An exhibition featuring some of her unseen exclusives is currently taking place at the Michael Hoppen gallery in London until November 15.
Published by WAH Magazine.com