“His MO was to attack through beauty,” writes Steven Klein, himself a provocateur, in his foreword to Gloss (Rizzoli), the new and first monograph on Chris von Wangenheim. The German-born, New York-based 70s photographer, before his own violent death in a car crash at the age of 39, was the third in a triumvirate — along with Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin — associated with dark, dangerous, disturbing depictions of glamour. “It is a fascinating and daunting notion, one that I apply to my own work.”
Exhaustively researched by Roger and Mauricio Padilha — also authors of Rizzoli’s Antonio Lopez and Stephen Sprouse titles — the book contains over 200 of these provocative, graphic images and fashion campaigns (Dior, Valentino, Calvin Klein) that von Wangenheim somehow managed to convince supes (Gia Carangi, Christie Brinkley, Lisa Taylor) to model in and glossies (Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire, Interview) to run. His powers of persuasion, likely bolstered by his friendship with the unassailable Anna Piaggi, enabled his brand of savage chic to reach and shock the masses, challenging outmoded taste levels all around the world, which was precisely his point.
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