It Seems Like Yesterday

Kinski on beach shadow@Benson___large

The editor francine crescent told me they were sending a beautiful young woman to be the model for the entire December 1976 Christmas issue of French Vogue, which I was to photograph. The fantasy theme of the issue, to be edited by the French film director Roman Polanski, was based on Polanski’s upcoming film about pirates. There was a swashbuckling hero, villainous pirates, buried treasure, a deserted island, and a beautiful princess. Francine told me the daughter of the German actor Klaus Kinski was perfect for the part. Seeing is believing and, believe me, Nastassja Kinski at 15 was drop-dead gorgeous.

Off we go to the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I had ever seen. It was one week of sheer fun. It was what I like a photo shoot to be—full of camaraderie amount the entire cast and crew—and what I always think a fashion shoot should try for: photographs that make the reader smile, laugh, and perhaps want to join in the fantasy.

Returning to Paris, we had a hard time getting the exquisite objects out of customs, including the sterling silver and blue enamel tortoise in the photograph shown here. The last I heard, the golden princess gown was still languishing somewhere in limbo. But never mind that, the issue was well received which is always the point.

From time to time, I run into Nastassja in Los Angeles or New York and we always have a laugh, reminiscing about our week as the princess and her photographer.