Mauricio and Roger Padilha Celebrate Christoph von Wangenheim With A New Book
With almost 35 years since the passing of legendary photographer Christoph von Wangenheim, it’s about time to celebrate his life. Wangenheim’s work, largely responsible for the accepted use of sex, violence, and subversive imagery in fashion editorials, will be on display in all its glory September 1st, in Mauricio and Roger Padilha‘s Gloss: The Work of Chris von Wangenheim. This is the first monograph published on the 70s-era German fashion photographer. With an introduction written by another photographic icon, Steven Klein, the book displays hundreds of images from the years of Wangenheim’s groundbreaking reign, as well as never-before-seen outtakes from shoots with well-known beauties of the era, including Christie Brinkley, Lisa Taylor, and notable Wangenheim muse, Gia Carangi. As the authors prepare for the launch and upcoming book tour, they reflect on their final product, the 3-year-long process, and why Chris von Wangenheim’s work still hasn’t stopped inspiring them.
Galore: What inspired you to do a book on Chris von Wangenheim’s work?
Mauricio: Chris’ work was so emblematic of the seventies and New York at that time. He shared a similar sensibility with Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton in that he juxtaposed violence and sex with high fashion, but his photographs have a grit and seediness behind the glamour that is unmistakably New York-inspired.
Which photo from the book is your personal favorite?
Mauricio: I really love the image of the beautiful woman in a car crash. It’s insane to think that Harper’s Bazaar Italia would run a picture that sensational almost 40 years ago.
Roger: The Dior ad with the woman shooting off a gun is my favorite. It’s styled like a portrait, and you don’t see much of anything, but you can imagine so many scenarios from looking at it.
Who are your icons?
Mauricio: There are so many. Of course, Stephen Sprouse, Antonio Lopez, and Chris are certainly up there. You have to really love someone’s work to dedicate three years on a book of them!
Roger: The people who inspire me vary from day to day, but the constant is an admiration of artists who really are trying to push the visual boundaries of any media.
What makes a great photographer?
Mauricio: A great photographer is able to capture a moment that still allows the viewer to dream.
He shot a lot with supermodel Gia Carangi. How did that come about?
Roger: Chris probably took more pictures of Gia than any other photographer. It makes perfect sense—his work was a mix of glamour and tragedy, and Gia embodied that in her real life. When you look at all the models in his images, Gia is the one that makes these wild scenarios most believable.
Can you tell us about the process of executing this project?
Mauricio: This project took roughly three years. We had wanted to do something on Chris for a very long time, and once we got permission from the estate, we set out to find the images. Magazines and photographers did not archive fashion photography back then the way they do now. It was a sort of throwaway art. So it was a treasure hunt to gather all this stuff together. Our art director, Marc Balet, had been friends with Chris, so he had some. We found his childhood girlfriend in Germany, and she had some. American Vogue had some. Lizzette Kattan, the editor of Harpers Bazaar Italia, had some. Basically, the images came from everywhere.
What’s next for you guys?
Roger: We’re spending the year promoting the book. Marc Jacobs is throwing a huge launch event for us during New York Fashion Week, and then we will be traveling to Europe to do signings and lectures. It’s really the most fun part of doing a book, especially since we kept it a secret for so long!
Give us one quote that describes Chris:
Mauricio: Chris paved the way for so many people, such as Steven Klein and Mert and Marcus, who use subversive themes in fashion photography. He was the first.
“Chris probably took more pictures of Gia than any other photographer. It makes perfect sense—his work mixed glamour with tragedy, and Gia embodied that in her real life.”