Blacked-out Beauty



Louise Despointes & Suzanne by Guy Bourdin. Make-up by Serge Lutens.

Celebrated fashion photographer Guy Bourdin (1928-1991), was best known for his editorial work for Vogue Magazine and advertisements for shoe designer, Charles Jourdan.  By the 1970s, Bourdin was principle photographer at French Vogue and given complete artistic control.

Bourdin had a reputation to subject his models to elaborate, and at times, dangerous situations. Today we’re looking at a behind the scenes look at an editorial for Vogue Paris.

It was 1969. Involved was a 20-year-old French model named Louise Despointes and Suzanne (surname unknown). Despointes had worked with Bourdin before, however this shoot was to be her most memorable. For this Christmas edition, Bourdin wanted to cover the two models in tiny black pearls. He had his make-up artist, Serge Lutens, cover the models with a thin layer of glue and attach numerous pearls. According to Despointes, “Then Guy decided that he wanted to do the whole body with those pearls. But he did not know if the whole body is glued it can’t breath. And we blacked out.” The layer of glue had interfered with the skin’s ability to regulate temperature and exchange oxygen. While the assistants hurriedly removed the pearls and the glue, Bourdin is reported to have said “Oh, it would be beautiful – to have them dead in bed!”

Below are extracts, translated from the magazine:

It took the makeup -creator Serge Lutens successively ten hours the first time, eight hours and a whole night on the following days (for the cover). 120 tubes of glue, 50 kg of beads, and proverbial patience, to Louise and Suzanne, entire fingers become precious ice, stars, and crystal on night background.


Cover of the January edition of Vogue Paris, 1970

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Guy Bourdin: Vogue, Paris - January 1970

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“I am black, but I am beautiful… A sparkle in each ear; clips Cartier black tortoiseshell helmeted a leopard Gold set with precious stones and diamonds.”

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“As natural as dew… Droplets of “Le De Givenchy” perfume the plants. The fragrance has a cool and delicate scent of rose and jasmine sandalwood.”


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