In the world of fashion, there might be very fewer people who don’t know who Steven Meisel is. For every aspiring photographer, this guy is who they aspire to be, and for every model, he is their dream. It will be safe to say that this guy is the most influential living photographer of this century.
For over 20 years now, he has been shooting the cover of Italian Vogue. He has shot every campaign of Prada since 2004. And this guy has been the driving force behind bringing black beauty in the mainstream fashion. Among all of his work, most influential ones remain the cover he shot for Madonna’s book called ‘Sex.’
Meisel is a very private person. Nobody knows that much about his family and his upbringing. However, we do know that Meisel was born on June 5, 1954, in the city of dreams, New York. His father’s name is Leonard Meisel, and his mother’s name is Sarah Meisel.
Currently, this 65 years old photographer is said to be single and has no children. With light brown eyes, standing at the height of 180 cm, supermodel Naomi Campbell exclaimed that even she was struck by his beauty.
According to some sources, his net worth stands at the worth of $90 Million.
Talking about his education, Meisel did his schooling at the High School of Art and Design and Parsons the New School for Design. There he attended different courses, but, as confirmed in an interview with Ingrid Sischy for Vogue France, he revealed that he majored in fashion illustration.
Steven’s childhood obsession with fashion-led his profession in fashion. In an interview with 032c, he called himself a stupid fashion asshole. While all the other children of his age played with toys, he drew women in his notebook.
Different than everyone else, that was his hobby. He took inspiration from magazines such as Harper Bazars and Vogue for his drawing. Thanks to these publications, even at the age of 12, he was obsessed with models like Twiggy, Veruschka, and Jean Shrimpton. His obsession also led him to meet his dream model Twiggy when he was just a fourth-grader.
One of the very first works he did was as an illustrator for a fashion designer called Halston. Unlike others, he enjoyed his desk job. He even taught illustration at Parsons as a part-time job. According to Meisel, up until that point, he never had the thought of becoming a photographer.
He was happy working as an illustrator, but then he realized photography is a way more lasting medium than illustration. He then had a sudden change of mind, and thus, he taught himself photography. His career as a photographer truly began while he was working at Women’s Wear Daily.
It was Oscar Reyes, a booker, who liked his illustrations and allowed him to take pictures of some of their models when he went to Elite Model Management. In his learning phase, he would often photograph them in his then apartment in Gramercy Park or on the street.
On normal weekdays he continued working at Women’s Wear Daily, and on weekends he would be practicing his photography skills with the models. He often shot portfolios for the aspiring models. Because his pictures were so extraordinary, his name was in everyone’s lips. Eventually, the people at Seventeen ended up calling to work with them.
The photographs that Meisel shoots are not just photographs. It’s an art. Everything is well planned, and everything has its purpose. He has been changing the fashion scenarios since his debut.
He is surrounded by controversies so much that he can be considered a celebrity now. His strong sense of advocacy has led him to create some of the fashion industries’ best fashion stories. The entirety of Italian Vogue’s 2008 all black issue is one of them.
In one of his interview with 032c, he told:
“My favorites are the ones that allow me to say something: the black issue; the poking fun at celebrities one; the paparazzi thing; the mental institution one; the ones that I have a minute to think about; all the ones that are the most controversial in fact. But it’s not because they are controversial that I like them, but because they say a little more than just a beautiful woman in a beautiful dress. I love that too, but to try and say something is also my goal.”
Talking about Meisel’s most significant work, he has contributed photos for the covers of several popular albums and singles, including two RIAA Diamond-certified albums, Madonna’s 1984 album “Like a Virgin” and Mariah Carey’s 1995 album Daydream. The cover of Madonna’s single “Bad Girl,” the limited picture disc for Madonna’s UK single release of “Fever,” and Mariah Carey’s single “Fantasy” were also shot by this legendary photographer.
Influence of Meisel There is no doubt that Meisel is considered as one of the most influential photographers of the century. He kick-started the careers of many successful models like Linda Evangelista, Guinevere Van Seenus, Karen Elson, Meghan Collison, Amber Valletta, Kristen McMenamy, and may more.
Meisel does not only shoot his model. He guides his models to transform themselves into art. In the fashion world, no one is immune to his charm. He always believed that the fashion industry is racist. Everywhere you see, white models graced the covers, and black models were hardly looked upon.
Thus, he worked his charm among the fashion elite to create an issue of Vogue that would only feature black models. Not only models but whoever had the fate of working with Meisel had their career boosted up.
He has been the driving force behind the careers of people he regularly worked within his Vogue shoots, including hairstylists Jimmy Paul, Oribe Canales, Garren, Orlando Pita, and Guido Palau, and make-up artists François Nars, Laura Mercier, Pat McGrath, and the late Kevyn Aucoin.
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