Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin are a team in business and life. Their collaborative fashion photography helped shape the modern definition of what that is in that it made early and good use of digital techniques to expand the field in the '90s. I remember seeing this photo of Madonna from Spin magazine around 1998 and getting hooked by the surreal style of it.
The rest of the Madonna photos from the Spin shoot were equally mysterious and led me into a headlong search for who was snapping such great shots of my Pop Music Queen. From there I saw Inez's iconic, digitally-aided ode to longing entitled Me Kissing Vinoodh Passionately from 1999, which I loved with as much passion as she did her husband. The shock of this photo, with it's early use of digital imaging, cannot be emphasized enough. It came to be at a time where you wondered "how'd they do that?" a lot more often.
Later, in the early '00s Inez and Vinoodh teamed up with Bjork to make the innovative "Hidden Place" video for a beautiful result. And then their fashion photography career took off with rocket speed and never looked back.
The Dutch duo got lush, prestigious assignments for W Magazine, Calvin Klein advertising, The Pirelli Calendar, and an impressive opportunity to snap The New York Times' annual portfolio of noteworthy acting performances in 2004 and a couple subsequent years. The work they turned out was consistently artistic and transformative to the field itself.
Their photos are as ghostly as they are glossy. They're high fashion, no doubt, but with a murky filter of incongruity. There's something amiss, the lithe women look too big and heavy-boned, the familiar cinema stars look more severe than you remember them, and the whole mis-en-scene seems to be inviting or documenting some crime or indiscretion that will or has taken place.
Inez and Vinoodh's celebrity portraits of (from top) Sophia Loren, Jodi Foster, Reese Witherspoon, Heath Ledger, and Charlize Theron.
Haunting? I suppose that's the right word. Their work is haunting--with Gucci bags and Calvin jeans.
All photos by Inez and Vinoodh, found across the interwebs via a google image search.