Peter Lindbergh's best photograph: the birth of the supermodels

By Dale Sawa

‘They were a revolution – fresh, fun, outspoken, poking at you, making edgy jokes, getting involved. Wow!'

Liz Tilberis, the editor of British Vogue, asked me to do a shoot. “You have to do the January 1990 cover,” she said. “You're the one.” She wanted something that would preview the decade to come. My reaction was: “Oh my God, who could that be? You can't hang the next decade on one face. It won't work.” But I knew what would.

This was the result. People always say this shot, this cover, was the birth of the supermodels, but that's not entirely true. Two years before, I shot what were really the first of such pics – the white shirt shoots. But that was for American Vogue. At that time, I didn't much like American Vogue. I found the women they were photographing so uninspiring. I preferred girls at art school. They wore tennis shoes and had a purpose. They weren't just showing off earrings. American Vogue was uptown, all Bentleys and crocodile-skin handbags. It didn't do it for me. I never went uptown.

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