EXCLUSIVE: Daria Werbowy and Mikael Jansson on Nudity in America, Retouching Models’ Knees, and More
Last week, Interview leaked six different cover images from its September 2014 Photographers’ Issue, and the question is: Who isn’t covering a magazine this month? The magazine paired up A-list actresses and supermodels with major photographers: Nicole Kidman with Steven Klein, Léa Seydoux with Peter Lindbergh, Keira Knightley with Patrick Demarchelier, Daria Werbowy with Mikael Jansson, Amber Valletta with Craig McDean, and Naomi Campbell with Mert and Marcus. The fashion and culture publication turned the tables on the talent involved, enlisting its leading ladies to profile their respective lensman for the occasion.
Interview gave Style.com a sneak peek inside the issue at Werbowy’s dialogue with notoriously private Jansson, who shot his frequent subject—they first began working together back in 2003—for the accompanying 20-plus-page spread at his summer cottage on an archipelago near Stockholm. The result was a candid conversation between two industry icons, who discussed the industry’s attitude toward nudity (Jansson had Werbowy pose with a poster from the controversial 1967 film I Am Curious), Jansson’s career evolution, their shared affinity for jazz, rampant retouching, and more.
Below, Style.com highlights exclusive images from the portfolio— Interview‘s latest issue hits newsstands September 2—and insights gleaned from the article.
1. Fashion’s attitude toward nudity is backward.
Daria Werbowy: “You take a lot of nudes. For me, I’m very comfortable nude with you. You have a perception of women that I think women appreciate. It’s very different from a random picture of a woman naked. Your perspective is more romantic and more respectful of the female body. It comes from a nice place. So, you obviously saw I Am Curious when you were younger. It was banned in a lot of places.”
Mikael Jansson: “It was banned, but I think it was also the 12th most seen film in America in 1969.”
DW: “Nudity seems to be an issue that America can’t get over in general. I wonder when the day will come when we will finally be OK with it, with the human form.”
MJ: “Things are going backward, in a funny way.”
2. Jansson introduced Richard Avedon to Chet Baker.
DW: “What was that [working with Avedon for two years] like?”
MJ: “It was a fantastic experience. But you had to connect with him outside of photography. I was really into jazz, so I brought my music to the studio and he loved it. So he said, ‘Mikael is in charge of music.’ I had shot Chet Baker in Sweden once before. I showed the picture to Avedon, and he said he wanted to photograph Chet. He said, ‘Let me know when Chet is playing next time.’ I said, ‘He’s playing at a small jazz club downtown.’ He said, ‘Mikael, to be a photographer, you have to do these kinds of things.’ He sent me to the club to ask Chet if I could take his picture.”
3. The best pictures arise from unexpected moments.
DW: “When we went to your cottage by the lake, I felt like I was going back in time—like I was in an old Swedish movie with all the little boats going by. We forget that people live that way still…[that] people do live well and happily and have nice lives in places like that. When you’re taking a picture, how involved are you?”
MJ: “I like to capture the moment. I like to stand back and see what’s going to happen.”
DW: “That’s much more difficult with fashion these days, isn’t it?”
MJ: “But there are those little moments in between—like, if you’re doing hair and makeup and I steal a moment right after.”
4. It’s difficult to put a beautiful visual into words.
DW: “Why don’t you like doing interviews?”
MJ: “I think it’s because I’m not that good verbally. I like to take pictures, it’s like hiding behind a camera.”
5. Werbowy wants photographers to stop retouching models’ knees [Jansson's images here were untouched].
DW: “Where do you think the obsession with retouching comes from?”
MJ: “We get carried away with the technique and with what you can do. You get sort of blind.”
DW: “Girls don’t have knees anymore. I didn’t know people thought knees were so ugly, but they wipe out all the knees. It’s all kneeless people. I think it looks so great to see the real person. I’m not 14 anymore, and I think it’s so much more of a celebration of the human existence to see it the real way.”
Photos: Mikael Jansson / Courtesy of Interview