I was photographing a small private party in 1972 for a LIFE magazine story on backless fashion when I happened upon Argentine born designer Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo sitting in the corner of the room with the exotic six-foot-tall Veruschka and their in-demand friend Ara Gallant—at the time the only hairdresser the supermodels would trust to touch their hair.
I had photographed the Coty Award–winning Giorgio before. He was a talented designer and a very kind man whose bold, colorful, ethnic-inspired, fantasy designs had caught the attention of Diana Vreeland and the avant-garde in the 60s.
Veruschka was on every conceivable magazine cover all over the world and had played the model in the cult film Blow Up… But her childhood is what was compelling to me. She was born in Nazi-occupied East Prussia in 1939, and when she was 5 years old, her father, Count Heinrich von Lehndorff-Steinort, was executed for his alleged part in the assassination attempt on Hitler. Her entire family was placed in a concentration camp until the end of the war where they emerged penniless, all of this before she became a Vogue superstar in the 1960s.
For me, the photograph evokes memories of a glittering time long ago… Take note of the young man in the background; his face suggests a longing to be a part of that fabulous exclusive trio.