The Eighties and Nineties were special times for fashion. That golden age saw supermodels that would be immortalised as muses, while designers dreamt up silhouettes that are still used as references today. Behind this visionary world of beautiful faces and fancy clothes was a handful of photographers who galvanised the imaginations of millions. Sitting at the top of the lot was Peter Lindbergh, who died on Tuesday at the age of 74.
To simply label him as cinematic would be an understatement. The German fashion photographer was renowned for his black-and-white portraits, but more so his respect for women. Despite coming from an era when perfection was the biggest prerequisite for a good photograph, Lindbergh was a firm advocate for the female form in all its natural beauty, and often refused to retouch images, saying “this should be the responsibility of photographers today, to free women, and finally everyone, from the terror of youth and perfection.”
During his career, the stalwart shot for some of the most influential magazines, such as Vogue, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and the Wall Street Journal Magazine. He had the power to persuade with his images.
Although born in Poland, Lindbergh was raised in industrial Duisburg, where he developed an eye for film noir and the shadowy magnetism of German expressionist cinema from an early age.
This influence clearly found its way into his photographs — some posed, many candid, but all tinged with the same melancholic power. They were true portraits which encapsulated a moment in time, all while still being as — if not more — relevant and relatable today. It’s a near impossible feat in fashion, but his work would never go out of style.
It is perhaps the intense intimacy in his photographs — even when his subjects were merely looking back him — that gave him an edge over the rest of his peers, sealing his reputation as one of the best the world would ever see.
Here, we remember some of his most phenomenal and indelible work.