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a monthly look at the faces that have made history

Veruschka

Here I am. That was the only line uttered by Veruschka—famous enough in 1966 to play herself—in her classic scene from Michelangelo Antonioni's Blowup. But here was a case where action—those three minutes of leggy writhing on the studio floor for David Hemmings' Bailey-esque fashion photographer—truly spoke louder than words. Forty-odd years later, the enigmatic German supermodel still looms large over the zeitgeist. Outsize both in persona and physical person (vital stats: 6'1", size 13 feet), she is now the subject of a limited-edition, cloth-bound monograph from Assouline that fully illuminates her career and impact on the fashion world. Included are the model's own musings; interviews with editors like Diana Vreeland and Grace Mirabella; and photographs from Richard Avedon, Francesco Scavullo, and Franco Rubartelli. (The latter was a sometime lover with whom she would alight in exotic locales to produce trippy fashion spreads that often involved more body paint than clothes.)

Born Vera von Lehndorff, Veruschka arrived in New York in the early sixties, looking to escape a traumatic childhood in Nazi Germany. After a slightly rocky start in the modeling game, the Vogue covers (11, to be exact) came rolling in. As the decade ripened, her Amazonian Barbie looks were a welcome counterpoint to wide-eyed cutie pies like Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy. These days, aside from the odd runway gig (most recently for Buddhist Punk in 2005), Veruschka is content to live a low-key artist's life in Berlin. But her dramatic flair is still a go-to reference for designers from Tom Ford to Michael Kors—and, of course, an evergreen inspiration for teenage boys the world over to enroll in photography class.

—Evelyn Crowley

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