Legendary photographer Ellen Von Unwerth launches retrospective

Legendary photographer Ellen Von Unwerth claims the modelling industry DOESN’T want women to be sexy – as she unveils a VERY glamorous new exhibition featuring Kate, Naomi and Claudia

  • The former model, 64, from Germany launched careers of supermodels 
  • Favoured ‘strong and powerful’ stars like Claudia Schiffer and Cindy Crawford
  • Said today’s modelling industry lacks sense of fun due to mobile phones
  • New London exhibition features portraits of her favourite supermodels  

She’s known for her seductive portraits of the world’s most glamorous stars, but photographer Ellen Von Unwerth claims that the modelling industry today doesn’t want women to be sexy. 

The former model, 64, from Germany championed the voluptuous supermodels of the ’80s and ’90s such as Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer because they looked ‘strong and powerful’ and had a sense of fun. 

‘Now they’re more and more skinny and I feel like they’re sucking out the energy a little bit,’ she told The Times, speaking ahead of the launch of her new Ladyland exhibition at the Opera Gallery in London. 

‘Designers don’t want the girls to be sexy. They don’t want the girls to shake when they walk on the runway,’ she said. 

She added that the fashion industry has lost some of its sense of fun, due to technology. 

In her modelling days, everyone was chatting and drinking champagne, but now everyone is glued to their mobile phones.  

Claudia Schiffer, Los Angeles, 1991. ‘I met Claudia very early in my career. I photographed her doing everyday things like walking her dog and going to the bakery,’ Ellen said 

The photographer’s hallmark is photographing women in everyday situations but still making them look as glamorous as possible 

German-born Ellen Von Unwerth, 64, a former model said that the industry today doesn’t want women to be sexy

Naomi’s Rollers, taken in 2004, forms part of the retrospective at London’s Opera Gallery 

After ten years as a model, Ellen she swapped the spotlight for life behind the lens. 

It was a decision that launched not only her own career, but also led to her taking images that made those of Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and other supermodels.

Since making her breakthrough aged 35, von Unwerth has become a major player in the world of celebrity photography, shooting stars including Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Lana Del Ray and working for brands such as Dior and Chanel.

Ahead of the retrospective of her work, she said women were her ‘favourite subjects’, and she was interested in making them ‘look beautiful’.

David Bowie & Kate Moss, New York, 2003. ‘Bowie and Moss had never met before they posed together for this portrait. But he was immediately protective of the model’

Ellen shot Claudia Schiffer for a Guess campaign in Mykonos in 1990 

Lindsey Wixson who became famous for her gap-toothed smile and bee stung lips photographed for Vogue Russia in 2015 

Dolce & Gabbana muse Bianca Balti photographer by Ellen in Paris in 2004 

When asked who had been her favourite celebrity to work with, von Unwerth said: ‘You do not really have favourites.

‘So many great moments with great people, but definitely Kate Moss, Naomi (Campbell), Claudia Schiffer, Courtney Love, Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, it’s really hard to say.

‘Miley Cyrus, I really love her, great personality, super fun to photograph.’

 Ellen Von Unwerth’s solo photography exhibition Ladyland runs at Opera Gallery, 134 New Bond Street, Mayfair until the 18th May www.operagallery.com 

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