Steven Meisel is often referred to as the most important and prolific fashion photographer of his generation. You will know his work, even if you don’t know you know it, it is iconic and it is everywhere. From Madonna’s notorious (and fabulous) Sex book in the 90s, to Sophie Dahl in the controversial Opium ad, to every single Vogue Italia cover for the last twenty years, Meisel is the peak of success; there is none higher!
Born in fifties New York he was obsessed as a child with the models of the sixties, even notoriously waiting outside legendary photographer Melvin Sokolsky‘s studio to meet Twiggy. He went on to major in fashion illustration, but indulged his passion for photography by shooting tests with models (which he would style as well as taking on both hair and makeup himself) from New York’s agencies on the weekend. Seventeen magazine first noticed his work in the girls’ books at castings, booked him on his first job, and the rest is history.
As well as his ongoing relationship with Vogue Italia and regularly shooting for the cream of the editorial crop, he also heads campaigns for Louis Vuitton, Versace, D&G, Balenciaga, Prada, the list goes on. Over the years he’s been held responsible for launching some of the biggest makeup careers in the biz. Francois Nars, Laura Mercier, Kevyn Aucoin and Pat McGrath anyone? All went stratospheric after working with Meisel. The same is true of many an iconic supermodel; Iman, Linda Evangelista, and Kristin McMenamy, he was even responsible for Karen Elson dying her hair red and shaving her brows in the mid-nineties, making her seemingly an overnight success.
An enigmatic figure, Meisel rarely gives interviews, but once said of his lack of signature style, “My style changes constantly, fashion is about change. In order to stay current and excited, I try new and different approaches.” His friend, designer Anna Sui perfectly sums up his position in the industry “Steven sets the stage,” she says, “Everybody else simply waits for what he does.”
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