In a city of fabulous photographers, Ali Mahdavi stands apart for his ability to capture something just a bit more exquisite, even supernatural in his famous subjects. The outré Iranian shutterbug has shot everyone from Tilda Swinton to Marilyn Manson to Charlotte Gainsbourg; actress and burlesque star Dita Von Teese is his most favored muse.
And Mlle Von Teese is one of those featured featured in his new exhibition “Glamorama: Celebrities by Ali Mahdavi,” at the equally glamorous Prince de Galles, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Paris. Other famous faces among the 40+ images include those of Monica Bellucci, Arielle Dombasle, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Donatella Versace and Karl Lagerfeld. It will be on display through October 23.
“Glamour is all the strategies that are used to achieve an ideal of beauty,” he explains, “that is not necessarily, and far from it, an ideal of conventional beauty – but an idea of personal beauty that corresponds to our own vision of this. Which is the beautiful.”
We asked him to give his most ethereal explication of three of his most exalted subjects.
Dita von Teese
“Dita is my ultimate muse, but she is also a close and very loyal friend. Fifteen years ago, Mr. Pearl and Suzanne von Aichinger introduced us to each other, and I immediately fell in love with her. She embodies the ideal woman that I drew since I was five years old. What I love about her is that she is the embodiment of glamour. At the beginning, she was the beautiful American blond next door, but she decided to become a brunette goddess of glamour! She transformed herself into the most glamorous woman on the planet by using all the tools of glamour inspired by the golden age of Hollywood. She always quotes a fabulous sentence from Helena Rubinstein: “There is no ugly woman, but there are lazy women!” She deserves her beauty that she creates, she is a magical bird of paradise. We did more than 20 sets of shooting, five film, film hologram for Louboutin, a video mapping, some numbers at Crazy Horse. She inspires me because she always drives me to somewhere unexpected! We evolved together and I hope we will continue until we are 80 years old. At this age, she will still be a beautiful woman with long white hair.”
“Monica is my ultimate friend and fantasy. People all around the world ask me questions about her, because she is a fantasy, an ideal woman for any person, an all man’s desire. She is all women, but in an ultimate vision: the Virgin Mary, Maria Magdalena…and also she reminds me of the goddess Hera / Junon. Monica has the same attitude for a big luxury campaign as she does for a more small personal shooting: always chic and elegant with everybody. That is what makes her a big star. After being a supermodel with many campaigns with great photographers [D&G by Helmut Newton, Steven Meisel…] she also became a great actress. There is always a change with her, she is hypnotized by the lens and drives you into new adventures.”
“While Dita is my brunette muse, Arielle is my blond muse – they are my favorites! She is the most delightful woman on the planet, not only because of her beauty, but all about what she is. Arielle is divine, she is a goddess, she is also someone that you fall in love with immediately, because she is super clever, spiritual and so surrealistic with a huge sense of humor. And more than all, she is a loyal person with whom I have a long relationship with for more than ten years. We had more than ten shootings, four music videos. It is impossible to separate our friendship and our artistic relation. She inspires me because of her surrealism and her strong character.”