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En français ce blog est ici.

My gallery in Beijing, Intergallery.cn

The website of my gallery in Beijing Art District 798. Intergallery.cn

I never expected to share my images, or at least never outside of this blog. Not really. A few months ago some 30 years-old photos resurfaced in my life and they brought back memories about my days working at Alaïa, Claude Montana, Thierry Mugler or Karl Lagerfeld. Two small images were featured in the Vogue China Sept.13 issue and I expected the story to end there. Looking at them for the first time in 20 years, I realised they were about more than beautiful girls during PFW, they represent a ‘lost era’ and in these over-sharing times, they are somewhat of a time-capsule. So I started looking for the negatives.

Konglingnan at the opening, super chic in "Evening"

Konglingnan at the opening, super chic in « Evening »

Two rolls of black and white negatives were tucked away in my photo album. Luckily they had plenty of great portraits of Bonnie Berman or Linda Spierings, Janice and even Grace Jones chatting with Azzedine Alaïa while getting ready for the ‘purple dress’ shoot. Grace Jones _Alaia

I remembered that evening and how I cuddled and kept her son quiet while they were shooting. A few feet away her boyfriend at the time Dolph Lundgren was telling a journalist that he’d mastered russian in 3 weeks for Rocky IV. It was 10 pm and it felt like a very long day. I had my camera with me and around the craziness of Grace I was invisible so I took a half a dozen black and white photos while she did her makeup and Azzedine adjusted her on the table of the boutique.

Grace doing her makeup. 1985 rue du Parc Royal (photo Bénédicte Bro Cassard)

Grace doing her makeup. 1985 rue du Parc Royal
(photo Bénédicte Bro Cassard)

On that same roll, one great serie looked like it was ‘posed’ and in fact it was a very spontaneous moment between Linda Spierings, then Eric Sartori (Azzedine assistant at the time), Gail Elliott, Alva Chinn and Tara Shannon goofing around backstage. This serie of 6 images is a testament of how thrifty I was with my films.

Alva Chinn, Gail Elliott, Tara Shannon and Linda Spierings backstage. 1985 rue du Parc Royal (photo Bénédicte Bro Cassard)

Alva Chinn, Gail Elliott, Tara Shannon and Linda Spierings backstage. 1985 rue du Parc Royal (photo Bénédicte Bro Cassard)

I look at those images like someone else took them and then mentally pat the back of my 19-years old self. 不错 baby! 不错! It was actually a little bittersweet to hear compliments after all this time. Back then, of course, I knew they were good and some models used them in their ‘Book » which is the ultimate validation. I remember hearing from Linda Spierings I think, that Paolo Roversi thought they were very interesting. Another model had shown hers to Helmut Newton and he’d said I was talented. But in the small world of Alaia’s atelier I was an intern. The lowest on the totem pole of power and it never went further than that. I moved to New York, needed to work immediately and because I can sell the Brooklyn Bridge or sands to the arabs, I worked as a sales manager at first then executive etc… It is only recently in Beijing that I picked up my camera again to shoot pretty women and make them beautiful. My « Belle du Jour. But, of course, the models I photographed from 1984 to 1986 were my first.

(photo Bénédicte Bro Cassard)

Bonnie Berman (photo Bénédicte Bro Cassard)

(photo Bénédicte Bro Cassard)

Lynne Koester (photo Bénédicte Bro Cassard)

Janice Dickinson -  rue du Parc Royal 1985 (photo by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

Janice Dickinson – rue du Parc Royal 1985 (photo by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

I couldn’t find the other films. I went back to Paris for fashion week. I looked all over my apartment and the basement and came up empty-handed. Back to Beijing I tried to figure out where they might be and 6 months later when I returned to Paris I went back to the basement. There in a dark corner, I’d missed the first time a damp cardboard suitcase rotting and covered in white fungus. I had a memory flash. I could see myself bring it down 5 years ago, right after the birth of my baby boy to ‘make room’. I should have placed my precious films in a plastic box but I remembered liking the ‘romance’ of the antique suitcase.

"Damaged Beauty" Gail Elliott circa 1985 (Photo by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

« Damaged Beauty » Gail Elliott circa 1985 (Photo by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

Most of the films were destroyed. They were still coiled around the plastic center and in their original white boxes marked with the year ‘Berçot 1983, Alaia 1984, Montana 1985’ but each had sort of ‘melted’ unto itself. Some irremediably so. I immediately tried to ‘clean’ one but the water washed it blank so I brought the lot back home to dry them in the Beijing air and see what could be done when I was less emotional. A few days later my assistant Denise and I started scanning the negatives.

Linda Spierings

« Damaged Beauty » Linda Spierings circa 1985 (Photo by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

And when the computer churned out the first strip of photos, we looked at each other and I cried.

'Damaged Beauty' Bonnie Berman (photo by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

‘Damaged Beauty’ Bonnie Berman (photo by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

There, in the tangled and distressed colors, emerged great beauty.

'Damaged Beauty' Tara Shannon (photo by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

‘Damaged Beauty’ Tara Shannon (photo by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

The original pictures were about the intimate moments of beautiful models in the 80s during fashion week, doing their makeup, laughing, napping and occasionally posing briefly for me. These are about something else.

'Damaged Beauty' Alva Chinn (photo by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

‘Damaged Beauty’ Alva Chinn (photo by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

It was as if Time embarrassed to attack such beautiful women decided to stop its work on a few images right where it mattered. Here, the legendary Alva Chinn in one of the few images saved from that roll. That pure profile of hers intact and emerging from the toxic blue fog that devoured the rest of the image.

The "Catwalk Contessa" Marpessa at Claude Montana. (Photo by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

The « Catwalk Contessa » Marpessa at Claude Montana. (Photo by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

'Damaged Beauty' Janice Dickinson & Sophie Théallet (photo by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

‘Damaged Beauty’ Janice Dickinson & Sophie Théallet (photo by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

Sophie and Janice in a picture I adore as it is ‘dated’ on so many levels. The cramped cabin, the cigarette, Sophie holding the bodysuit by the crotch, naked Janice dressing herself after the show. Her thin but buff body… While Denise and I were busy rediscovering each film, I met at my home Ms. Sun YanMei and Julia Proust the passionate and talented cultural attachés of Alliance Française de Pékin to discuss the fashion conferences I am currently giving them. YanMei saw some pictures on the table and asked me if I intended to show them in a gallery. I laughed when she asked me ‘permission’ to explore the option.

Intergallery Beijing

Inter Gallery Art Center 798 Beijing

Determined and ‘fonceuse’ YanMei arranged for me to meet with the director of Inter Gallery in Beijing. What I did not realise at the time was that it is one of the most respected photography gallery in China. Located in 798 Inter specialises in amazing contemporary Chinese artists such as Liu Bolin or recently Yang Yankang among many others curated by the director Na Risong.

lost beauties

Alliance Française Pékin and the sponsor MEDSpa outdid themselves because they organised two exhibitions to be held simultaneously in Beijing. The bigger lot, ‘Lost Beauties’ was shown until yesterday in 798 Art District while 19 ‘intact images’ are up the walls until the end of the month in Galeries Lafayette Beijing to illustrate their one-year anniversary.

The opening ceremony at Inter Gallery

The opening ceremony at Inter Gallery.

'Damaged Beauty' Janice Dickinson (photo by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

‘Damaged Beauty’ Janice Dickinson (photo by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard) To Janice Dickinson I dedicated a wall, testament to her beauty and her extraordinary generosity. I have dozens of images of her just as beautiful as this one.

'Damaged Beauty' Janice Dickinson (photo by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

‘Damaged Beauty’ Janice Dickinson (photo by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

A visitor posing by the wall

A visitor posing during the opening ceremony.

Yasmine Le Bon

‘Damaged Beauty’ Yasmine Le Bon (photo by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

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Kids playing with the props below the « Makeup » installation.

'Damaged Beauty' Linda Spierings (photos by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

‘Damaged Beauty’ Linda Spierings (photos by Bénédicte Bro-Cassard)

Gail elliott

China is amazingly efficient sometimes. It took us only 6 intense hours to create a catalog of both exhibitions from scratch while I was battling a nasty bout of flu. 24h before the opening we had it.

Linda Spierings at Galeries Lafayette Xidan

Linda Spierings at Galeries Lafayette Xidan

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 07.57.57

The divine Katoucha smiling from the walls at Galeries Lafayette.

Montana and Betty Lago, him moody and still concentrated, she beaming after her trimph walking the 'Bridal' dress down the catwalk circa 1984

Montana and Betty Lago, him moody and still concentrated, she beaming after her triumph walking the ‘Bridal’ dress down the catwalk circa 1984

Mounia, part of the "Makeup" installation. In those forgotten times, the models actually did their own makeup. Real pros, they knew their faces better than anybody and spent their free time fixing their makeup.

Mounia, part of the « Makeup » installation. In those forgotten times, the models actually did their own makeup. Real pros, they knew their faces better than anybody and spent their free time fixing their makeup.

Grace Jones Alaia

sleep Resting between shows…

Tatjana_smoking029

Tatjana extraordinary beauty after all these years…. burned but intact.

inter

The makeup wall.

The makeup wall.

visitor

I really wanted to link my past with my present, so we installed a video of over 800 Belles du Jour that I shot in the last 2 years on a loop at the entrance. I think most people appreciated my vision of current Fashion in China. He spent 40 minutes watching the entire thing. I was very touched.

Sophie_théallet

SOLD

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 07.58.19

A Belle du Jour on the opening day.

It was an amazing opportunity to introduce some of my work to more people and I want to thank again Mr. Jean-Luc Tissier and Nadège Le Lan of Alliance Française for putting me in their « Romantic » calendar. Of course without Sun YanMei and Julia Proust it would not have happened, so I am very very grateful to both of them. Thanks also to MedSPA for their financial support –  and amazing products, Galeries Lafayette and Na Risong for welcoming me in his gallery.

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 07.58.31 text

These pictures are unique. They represent youth and great beauty, a bygone era, the privacy of Fashion before it disappeared, the dawn of supermodels and Paris return to the center of Fashion in 1985.  They are damaged, survived and are still incredibly beautiful. As far as I am concerned they are very remote from me as I was so young when I took them, but I would love to share them with more people. If you are interested. Contact me.

alliance_française_pékin Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 18.46.31

The catalog of the exhibition.

A bientôt.

b

My accidental selfie.

My accidental selfie.

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Betty Lago -  close-up

Betty Lago – close-up