For this week’s segment of Fashion Flashback, we invite you to discover German top model Veruschka von Lehndorff, one of the most popular models on the ’60s, joining the likes of Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton, before the popularization of the term ‘supermodel’ in the 1970s. Veruschka was more than a model – she was a muse.
—By Luisa Tarantino
Veruschka’s trajectory is anything but uninteresting. Her father, Count Heinrich von Lehndorff, joined the German resistance army, and was involved in the 20th of July plot to assassinate Hitler, leading to his execution. Veruschka and her family sough refuge in a camp for the children of resistance fighters and survived the war. Like many other post-war refugees, Veruschka and her family sought refuge around Europe. They settled in Florence, where Veruschka had dreams of becoming an artist. And she did become an artist of sorts when she was discovered, then moving to New York City to pursue her modelling career.
Shot by Franco Rubartelli for Vogue – YSL (1968)
Appearing time and time again in the pages of Vogue (Diana Vreeland, former Editor-in-Chief of Vogue, put her on the cover of Vogue 11 times), she became “one of—if not the most—in-demand supermodels of the decade.” Legendary photographer Richard Avedon even called her “the most beautiful woman in the world.” At 6’3, she was undeniably striking: steely blue eyes, glittering blonde hair, and plump lips – equal parts seductive and innocent.
She created a bold personality to fit into the vicious world of New York City modelling – she created Versuchka. She created a persona that could do anything, expressing herself through an array of characters, and even at times satirizing the modelling industry itself. She quickly fell into film – one of her most memorable moments is the opening scene of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-up (1966), where her charms are on full display. She even had a minor appearance in the 2006 reboot of Casino Royale.
Veruschka in Antonioni’s Blow Up
She pulled off a myriad of looks in her many shoots, often playing characters, and never being too shy to bare it all. She often transformed into animals, actors – people and things other than herself. However, one of her most classic looks that made her so striking and irresistible is, as Vogue describes, “her sculptural, teased-to-the-heavens, and decidedly ’60s hair looks,…her signature extreme lashes, a sheer wash of pastel pigment on the lids, graphic winged liner, glossy pink lips, and generous swirls of bronzer.”
Franco Rubartelli, her long-time lover and collaborater, and Veruschka
Shot by Richard Avedon
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