Roxanne Lowit Takes Us Backstage with Yves Saint Laurent

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Nobody can capture the glamorous chaos and style intensity of backstage fashion shows like fashion and celebrity photographer Roxanne Lowit.

Let me remind you that it all started back when Lowit didn’t have credentials to shoot out front at the shows, so her model friends would take her backstage, and the rest is history. Today, more than 35 years after she started her career, we continue to enjoy the fruits of a time when, for years, Lowit was the only photographer back there behind the scenes.

Lowit — who previously marveled us with 2009’s “Backstage Dior” — is about to launch a new photography book with “never seen images” of that fantasy and real world from a real insider’s point of view. This time around, she takes us on a journey into the Yves Saint Laurent days, from the first moment she met Saint Laurent in 1978 to his last show in 2002. The book’s foreword is by Pierre Bergé — the designer’s partner — and features texts by Paloma Picasso, Catherine Deneuve, Jerry Hall, Valerie Steele (director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology), Pat Cleveland, Grace Jones, Betty Catroux and Lucie De La Falaise. Published by Thames & Hudson, Lowit’s Yves Saint Laurent book will be released in November.

“It’s more of a personal journey; it shows Yves with his friends, in his studio and out at Le Palace and, of course, backstage,” Lowit told TheBlot Magazine about the difference between the YSL and Dior books. “It includes earlier photographs, such as my first photographs at a fashion show in Paris. You will see how models acted during that time. They played to the camera, and they were freer.”

© YVES SAINT LAURENT by Roxanne Lowit, to be published by Thames & Hudson in November 2014 Photo © 2014 Roxanne Lowit. All rights reserved.
© YVES SAINT LAURENT by Roxanne Lowit, to be published by Thames & Hudson in November 2014
Photo © 2014 Roxanne Lowit. All rights reserved.

When asked what part of this most recent project she would like to relive, Lowit answered with no hesitation. “It would be when I first arrived in Paris as a young fledgling photographer, and I ended up on the top of the Eiffel Tower with YSL, Antonio Lopez, Pat Cleveland and Andy Warhol. Because I admired these people and there I was, I was part of the entourage.”

The timing of Lowit’s new book couldn’t be more perfect. This year alone, two YSL movies about the late designer have been exposing his fans to a closer look into his personal life and work. Lowit’s book just transports those movie scenes into a sensational reality with her intimate and warm photographic approach to the subjects combined with her sublime aesthetics that can even elevate the allure of the surreal fantasy of haute couture.

“It was an honor to be welcomed by Yves. He was very intense and very polite. His aura was strong yet fragile. He wanted his models to be happy. He wanted me to be happy,” Lowit describes of her 25 years of backstage experience with her designer friend, an era she feels a little nostalgic about.“I miss my friends, the fun, the creativity, the magic …”

© YVES SAINT LAURENT by Roxanne Lowit, to be published by Thames & Hudson in November 2014 Photo © 2014 Roxanne Lowit. All rights reserved.
© YVES SAINT LAURENT by Roxanne Lowit, to be published by Thames & Hudson in November 2014
Photo © 2014 Roxanne Lowit. All rights reserved.

And, because she was so exposed to the shaping of YSL’s legacy, I had to ask Lowit which was her favorite collection, her favorite YSL muse, and why? “The tuxedos and Loulou de La Falaise because she had great style,” she replied.

I often see Roxanne Lowit at New York City nightlife events, almost unnoticeable — she has that elegance that doesn’t differentiate but completely distinguishes her from others in the same craft. I know I am in the right place when I see her walking around waiting to capture that magical moment so often defined in her work. No wonder her first book, published in 1993, was called “Moments.”

Lowit’s next project will be a performance in New York City at the Hotel Particulier at the end of October, a perfect and inspiring place for a pioneer artist who, like so few, can make you feel at ease while documenting the magic of life.

YSL_Fashion_Book_New by Roxanne Lowit
© YVES SAINT LAURENT by Roxanne Lowit, to be published by Thames & Hudson in November 2014 Photo © 2014 Roxanne Lowit. All rights reserved.

Gazelle Paulo is a contributing writer for TheBlot Magazine. He also writes a column for NewYorkSPY.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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