Peter Lindbergh, who died yesterday at the age of 74, was one of the most important and influential forces in fashion. He worked tirelessly behind the scenes for four decades, photographing some of the most famous images for some of the world's top fashion magazines.
Best known for his black and white cinematic images and portraits of '90s-era supermodels, he captured a natural, carefree type of beauty — one that went against the prevailing high-gloss, bombshell looks of the time. He was also vocal in his rejection of perfectly airbrushed, photoshopped stills of models.
The photos speak for themselves. Perhaps one of his most famous images was a black and white group shot of models at a beach he shot for Vogue in nothing but oversized white dress shirts. With hardly any makeup, the women were jumping, frolicking and smiling, a mood that showed high-fashion models in a different, more relatable light.
That image spurred the supermodel craze of the '90s, a group consisting of famous faces like Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, and Naomi Campbell. Similarly, he photographed the these three models along with Cindy Crawford and Tatjana Patz for the January 1990 cover of British Vogue. Again, there was a freshness to them, with Lindbergh all about bringing the models' personalities forward rather than focusing on stoic perfection.
And who could forget that ICONIC black and white shot of Naomi walking a pack of Dalmatians in an abandoned lot wearing a polka-dot trench coat that was cinched to the Gods? Or what about the stunning editorial he shot in 1993 for Harper's Bazaar of Amber Valletta posing in angel wings against the New York City backdrop? The list goes on and on.
On Instagram, Naomi reflected on 33 years of memories with the photographer. "Broken beyond words," she wrote. "Your vitality, your animated smile, your kindness and generosity of giving me your home in Paris while mine was being put together."
One of his last shoots before he passed away was for the September cover of British Vogue, the one that Meghan Markle guest-edited and featured a variety of "strong women" she admired. It was a coup for the magazine, but only Lindbergh could do justice for what Meghan wanted to capture. And his legacy will always be just that: his knack for seeing real beauty in people, and bringing out their spirit in a way no one else can.