This is the story I told at the VESTOJ event, by Anja Aronowsky Cronberg for la fondation d`entreprise Gallerie lafayette. Of course it was something else when told but I still like to share it with you:
I like to share with you a moment of fashion, which was in fact my very first, the meeting with the iconic photographer Bob Richardson and our first shooting together. Our path crossed and our first glance at each other, an intense moment, took place the first time I was brought into a model agency in Paris. He booked me there and then for a job in London, the following week, for the magazine Harpers Queen. I was 19. At that time, when I was discovered, I was visiting Paris, together with my boyfriend, before I would start art school in Stockholm. My boyfriend went home alone. I stayed. It was my first time in Paris and a week later my first time in London.
As I walked into the studio there was an air of mystery, very silent but at the same time tense, not a bad tension, a deep concentrated tension (as there can be moments before something important is about to happen). Bob was there and his wife Norma. There was also a smaller crew but more in the background. The clothes were specially selected, a fashion take on sport, very androgynous, body tight suits, overalls…the kind used for fensing, equistry, aviation…for instance an overall in brown leather with a tight belt
an all black suite with a bowl hat
and a white fensing suit.
All felt very much like wearing a second skin, being restrained in a second skin but at the same time that was adding to the mystery. Nothing fashionable at all, more a feeling for the story…
The photo session…it was like meeting a lover, through the intermedia of the camera and the clothes. I would feel the presence of the clothes on my body, their body tightness and qualities of cotton, wool, leather…I felt the beauty of them, the dramatical, unusual style…and my make up was dramatically black around the eyes. More than anything I could feel his presence, the touch of his eyes, the touch of his hands as he was guiding me to be the peace of art he was creating, and eventually we were creating together. It was electric…and he hung his own jewellery around my neck…a very intimate gesture.
This erotic moment…it was…an erotic moment, very deeply sensual, not at all vulgar…it was an energy moving between us, between artist and model, creating. I did not feel shy although all of this was new to me. I felt guided and held in this moment of ecstasy where it was safe to express something from deep within, a dept I´d only known between lovers before.
As Bob guided me I came deeper and deeper into this feeling, this abandonment of the personality and the opening up of something else, something like a secret space. And it was not personal. At the same time it was deeply personal as he kept guiding me how to move in the clothes, crouching down, opening my body to express that emotion and movement. I was taken by him, although I never saw him as a man. It was a pure moment of creation.
I knew then the secret of modelling, the giving not just of my face but of something else. How to open inside, the inner nature of the body, through the sex, through the belly, the heart, the throat…eyes… and to let the mind go free. The clothes were holding me, he was holding me, the room was holding me and when he wet my hair with water and said ”and now cry”, I cried, tears wetting my eyes, rolling down my cheeks.
I had just experienced my first moment of fashion, a surrender so deep that the clothes were something I felt but not of importance at all, I was carried beyond me to something I knew, another dimension and I was moved, deeply moved.Many times followed working with Bob during a time span of a year or two…we never met privately but one day, a few days after he had booked me, as the only model, to do the whole collections for french Vogue, he called me, said it was urgent, then came to see me and told me he had left his wife and wanted to live with me. That he loved me. I was not at all prepared for that, for me our relationship was professional, in this deep way, still professional.
He cancelled the whole collections and I never saw him again. As a young model I was devastated, to model the collections for Vogue was the most prestigious thing one could do…as a young woman I was not ready to meet that emotion. Today I would have done it very differently. Remembering this I feel so much gratitude to the moments we share together.