Steven Meisel’s “Wasted Luxury” for Vogue Italia

Steven Meisel’s “Wasted Luxury” for Vogue Italia

This season’s tribal prints get a futuristic makeover courtesy of fashion editor Panos Yiapanis for the March issue of Vogue Italia. With models Saskia de Brauw, Julia Saner and Milou van Groesen donning everything from light bulbs to feathers, the trio languishes in a lavish setting with Steven Meisel’s Wasted Luxury where ensembles featuring the work of Versace, Balenciaga, Miu Miu and more take center stage.

steven meisel

“Bank in the Form of a Pig” by Harry Allen for Areaware




To read about Steven Meisel’s career and view other examples of his prodigious portfolio of photography work … then continue on here


steven meisel

About Steven Meisel

Steven Meisel was born in 1954

He is an American photographer, who obtained popular acclaim with his work in US and Italian Vogue and his photographs of friend Madonna in her 1992 book Sex.

He is now considered one of the most successful fashion photographers in the industry, shooting regularly for many different fashion magazines, including US and Italian Vogue, in which he has photographed every cover for the past 20 years.

His studio is located in New York City at 64 Wooster Street but he often rents the studios at Pier59 in New York and Smashbox Studios in Los Angeles.

His fascination for beauty and models started at a young age. At that time Meisel would not play with toys, but would instead draw women all the time. He used to turn to magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar as sources of inspiration for his drawings. Meisel dreamt of women from the high society like Gloria Guinness and Babe Paley, who personified to his eyes the ideas of beauty and high society. Other icons were his mother and his sister.

He studied at the High School of Art and Design and Parsons The New School for Design where he attended different courses but, as affirmed in an interview with Ingrid Sischy for Vogue France, he finally majored in fashion illustration.

steven meisel with liza minnelli in 1991

One of Meisel’s first jobs was to work for fashion designer Halston as an illustrator. He also taught illustration part-time at Parsons. Meisel never thought he could become a photographer. He admired photographers like Jerry Schatzberg, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon and Bert Stern.

He felt that illustration was a thing of the past and found photography as a lasting medium. Later on, while working at Women’s Wear Daily as an illustrator, he went to Elite Model Management where two girls working there allowed him take pictures of some of their models.

He would photograph them in his apartment in Gramercy Park or on the street: on weekdays he would work at Women’s Wear Daily and on weekends with the models. Some of these models took their pictures to Seventeen magazine to show their model books and the people at Seventeen subsequently called Meisel and asked if he wanted to work with them.

Meisel has contributed photos for the covers of several popular albums and singles, including two RIAA Diamond-certified albums, Madonna’s 1984 album “Like a Virgin” and Mariah Carey’s 1995 album Daydream.

His work also can be seen on the cover of Madonna’s single “Bad Girl” (a nude), the limited picture disc for Madonna’s UK single release of “Fever” (a partial nude), and Mariah Carey’s single “Fantasy” (simply a different crop of the photo on the cover of the Daydream album). He shot photos of Madonna for her greatest hits album GHV2.

Below is a clip from a kitschy Eighties movie titled: “Portfolio” which cameos Steven Meisel at work

Fashion campaigns

He shoots Prada campaigns each season — having done so since 2004.

Prada Fall Winter 2010_11 Campaign

Amongst others, Meisel has shot campaigns for Versace, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana and Calvin Klein (for whom his campaigns were very controversial).

madonna versace 90’s

In April 2008 he shot friend Madonna for Vanity Fair, and later in the year he shot her for the 2009 spring campaign by Louis Vuitton at Splashlight’s Skylight Studio


As one of the most powerful photographers in the fashion industry, Meisel is credited with “discovering” or promoting the careers of many successful models, including top models Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Kristen McMenamy, Amber Valletta, Iris Strubegger, Lara Stone, Coco Rocha, Caroline Trentini, Liya Kebede, Karen Elson, Doutzen Kroes, and Raquel Zimmerman, propelling them to fame by regularly featuring them in Vogue and various campaigns, notably Prada, considered one of the most desired campaigns in the business.

Vogue Italia July 2008 cover

Meisel’s influence and training seems to also extend past models. He used his influence among the fashion elite to create an issue of Vogue that would show only black models. The issue was released in July 2008 with the purpose of addressing the racism seen lately in fashion magazines, runways, and advertising campaigns.

He also launched the career of Ross Van Der Heide, a young fashion designer, by showing Ross’s artwork to Anna Sui. He launched the careers of many models and persuaded British model Karen Elson to shave her eyebrows off which earned her the nickname ‘Le Freak’

Meisel has been the force behind the careers of people he regularly used on his Vogue shoots; hairstylists Oribe Canales, Garren, Orlando Pita and Guido Palau, and make-up artists François Nars, Laura Mercier, Pat McGrath and the late Kevyn Aucoin owe some of their success to the photographer.

Meisel has been a protégé of both Franca Sozzani and Anna Wintour, editors-in-chief of Italian and American Vogue, respectively. For the former, he photographs the cover of every issue, something generally unheard of in the ever changing fashion industry.

Meisel often creates layouts which are controversial, by juxtaposing fashion and politics and/or social standards.

For example, in the September 2006 issue of Vogue Italia, Meisel played with the concept of restricted liberties post-September 11 America, with the models portraying terrorists and highly trained policemen. It caused a stir in the press, as the models were presented in violent compositions where they could be seen as being victimized. It also elicited a negative response from feminists which saw the role of the women as being undermined by their male counterparts.

steven meisel

Candice Swanepoel in ‘I Want Candy’ – Vogue Italia February 2011

Linda E is Eternal – Vogue Italia June 08

miranda kerr in 3D – vogue italia sept 2010

original photo bt Richard Schulman

steven meisel for valentino

Vogue Italia August 2008

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