The Spirit of a New Age, Vogue (October 1981)
Growing up in Europe, I was always hearing her name, Nastassja Kinski. And it was the most beautiful name on the most beautiful woman. She was one of the biggest stars in Europe throughout the ’80s, first coming to prominence for being a daughter of German actor Klaus Kinski (who turned out to be a fairly gross person) and, well, for dating Roman Polanski (also gross) while she was still a teenager. Nastassja certainly didn’t lack in the talent department, but I’ll always think of her as the devastatingly beautiful blonde in Paris, Texas. And the infamous snake photo below by Richard Avedon. Well, it’s from this 1981 Vogue shoot, which would’ve been fairly forgettable if not for the iconic photo. Certainly not because of lack of physical beauty, but because the choice of clothing is so unremarkable (save for the Russian princess look above) and easily dated. In HBO’s The Editor’s Eye, Vogue‘s Polly Allen Mellen (my fave Vogue personality of all time) expresses regrets of styling nude Nastassja with that chunky white cuff.
We were in Los Angeles and we’ve already started the shoot. We were doing fashion, just kind of fashion pictures… and they were okay. And I said, “Do you have any special things that you like and she said, “I like snakes.” So we called an animal place and they brought that incredible snake. I held the snake, which is quite an experience, and Dick said, “Would you do it in the nude?” She said, “yes, sure.” She laid down and snake wrapped around her body and up her body and it got to the ear and kissed her, and he took the picture. I had tears rolling down my cheeks. I couldn’t believe it: it was magical. Completely magical when the snake kissed her and the tongue went into her ear. When the shoot was over, we couldn’t speak. It was absolutely extraordinary. I wish I hadn’t put that bracelet on because I thought it kind of became a fashion statement and I thought the picture was something else. I would’ve liked her to be completely nude.