When Richard Avedon captured the essence of beauty

The 2014 Paris Photo Fair was held in Grand Palais from the 13th to the 16th of November. Hosting works from 169 galleries and art book dealers around the globe it is the premier international art fair for works in the photographic medium. But it was the Gagosian’s many splendid images of Richard Avedon that had international Vogue Editor Suzy Menkes in awe for this master of the lenses that he never went out of style. This is our favorite post on Paris Photo Fair by far.“An Orgy of Gorgeousness” Supermodel memories flood back when I see Avedon’s powerful Gianni Versace adverts again. It was the essence of the Eighties – the fashion birth of the supermodels. I was there front-row, watching the arrival of these Amazonian power women, standing tall and strong – especially Linda Evangelista with her proud head thrown back and her unstoppable, firm but fleshy legs.versace-richard-avedon-vogue-17nov14-DO-NOT-REUSE-b

And in 1992, Richard Avedon pulled all these models together for a Gianni Versace campaign. “I can remember that shoot like it was yesterday,” said Naomi Campbell. Linda teamed up with Stephanie Seymour – another figure in this orgy of gorgeousness – along with Naomi with her dark, gleaming snake of a body, the sweet-faced Christy Turlington, and the vigorous Shalom Harlow – with cute little Kate Moss was trying to catch up with her soul sisters.7-versace-avedon-vogue-13nov14-DO-NOT-REUSE-b

As I approached the outer wall of the Gagosian Gallery stand at this year’s Paris Photo art fair, and I saw Avedon’s “supes” framed in the front line, I drew a sharp intake of breath. The reflection of the Grand Palais glass dome trellis on to the images gave even more of an “iron lady” effect. What a hard-edged, sexually provocative frolic! Linda Evangelista crawling in a black dress over Seymour’s wide-spread legs in vividly-patterned palazzo pyjamas. Or Naomi mounting the back of a young Kristen McMenamy, both in bold, bright stripes.6-versace-avedon-vogue-13nov14-DO-NOT-REUSE-b

In another image, all the models are in body-conscious jet-black dresses, with Kristen’s broad back turned toward the camera. This fashion moment was the epitome of the power-woman era – a celebration of androgyny and feminist energy before grunge came in.5-versace-avedon-vogue-13nov14-DO-NOT-REUSE-b Five years later, Gianni himself was gone. The Gagosian had many splendid images, powerful in black and white. But these wild women in their strong colours and violent patterns caught a fashion moment that is both of its time and timeless. Or to put that more gracefully, in Avedon’s own words: “If you do what I’ve done, which is to record the beauty of your time, that doesn’t go out of fashion.”4-versace-avedon-vogue-13nov14-DO-NOT-REUSE-bPhotos via Vogue.com