Fantasy, fashion and erotica are subject to mix ‘n blend in this Taschen re-issue by photographic provocateur Ellen von Unwerth.
The German photographer’s portrayal of flesh and fetish celebrate the bodies of the world’s most beautiful. Fräulein is dedicated to fantastical depictions of the likes of Kate Moss, Dita Von Teese and Britney, letting viewers bare witness to moments of seduction – like peeking through a keyhole and finding something you shouldn’t. Presenting the images already imprinted in our visual memory from Claudia Schiffer teething a soft toy to a dominatrix Naomi Campbell, Ellen von Unwerth avoids cliché in every instance by tempering her use of overt sexual symbolism to explore fantasy and rejoice in the female form.
Beginning her career as a model, Ellen von Unwerth opted for a life behind the lens, shooting for Vogue, Vanity Fair, The Face and i-D (laying claim to ten winking covers in total from Bjork to Kylie; Courtney Love to Victoria Beckham.) Fräulein celebrates the inimitable style and sophistication that this iconic photographer has built her career upon. Go get lost, be empowered.
What does femininity mean to you? Femininity is the mixture of a physique and a personality. I love women with a lot of both and a twinkle in the eyes.
There was a big reaction from the British press when Rihanna was seen with your book last week. Why do you think the topic of female sexuality causes such a stir? Rihanna has been seen with my book Omahyra and Boyd, a book about Omahyra and her boyfriend who life in New York. It is a love story from 2005! I don’t know where the lesbian manual thing was coming from. Anyway I think it is hypocritical to make a big fuss about it in the year 2011.
Is your work a comment on female sexuality? Their sexuality, their personality, their style, their sense of humour.
Is it easier for a woman to photograph a woman than a man to photograph a woman? I think every person has his or her own way of interpreting photography; I would not make a difference because of the gender. It is more a state of mind.
How does your experience as a model inform your work as a photographer? It was amazing to work on the other side too, I understand what it feels like to be the model and how vulnerable you can feel in front of the camera. So I try to create a relaxed atmosphere where the model feels free and can express herself.
What’s next for you? Feeding my cat.
Fräulein is available from taschen.com
Text: Jessica Duncan