Saturday, June 28, 2008
Countess Vera von Lehndorff Steinort (born May 14, 1939), better known as Veruschka is a German supermodel, actress and artist. Born into nobility in Russia, her father was a German army reserve officer and her mother a Countess. Her first years were spent living on an enormous estate and enjoying a wealthy existence. This lifestyle was cut short when she was just five years old. Her father, a member of the German Resistance, was executed for attempting to assassinate Adolf Hitler. After his death, the remaining family members spent their time in labor camps until the end of World War II. At this time her family was left homeless and penniless.
After studying art in Hamburg, she moved to Florence, where she was discovered at age 20 by Ugo Mulas a photographer. Towering at a massive 6 feet tall, it was hard for Vera to find work. Soon she was snatched up by Eileen Ford and in 1961 she moved to New York city to jump start her career with the prestigious Ford Agency. However, despite her striking beauty, no one wanted to work with her, so she returned to Europe to reinvent herself. She changed her name to Veruschka and created a new prersona. Her powerful five minute performance in the 1966 cult film "Blow Up" by Michelangelo Antonioni gave her the attention she needed. The bookings soon followed and she started earning $10,000 a day working with the best photographers in the world and often art directing the shoots herself. It was at this time she started posing nude wearing only body paint covering her entire body. She would imitate animals, creatures or simply just try to disappear into the background. In 1975, Veruschka turned her back on the fashion industry due to disagreements with Grace Mirabella, the newly appointed editor-in-chief of Vogue, who wanted to change her image to make her more relatable to the average women.
I have loved Veruschka since I first laid eyes on her. It has been said that she does all the body painting herself. This makes her not only a fashion icon, but an incredible contortionist.