The Female Gaze

Ellen von Unwerth in Paris

Image: Copyright Ellen von Unwerth–Courtesy of La Hune.

BY: PROVOKR Staff

In November 2017, La Hune burned to the ground. French society cherished the store for the personalities and artists it attracted–Jean-Paul Sartre, Coco Chanel, Albert Camus, and Pablo Picasso, among others. The store was one of the remaining fragments of the legendary “left bank,” and its loss was felt throughout Europe.

One year later, it reopened with a show of work by Ellen von Unwerth, the model-turned-photographer whose prolific portfolio is synonymous with cutting-edge fashion. The show, entitled Guilty Pleasures, offers a lacy and racy glimpse of von Unwerth’s creative point of view. In a collection of 25 photographs, all bearing von Unwerth’s signatures of high contrast and provocative moments, she and La Hune celebrate the legacy of artistic community in Paris.

We proletariats sit across the table from many mysteries in life–the enigma of celebrities, especially, is typically only disclosed by invitation–but von Unwerth has a way of undoing their top few buttons just so. And no one gets upset when she keeps going.

“The female gaze has more depth. It goes a little more into the person, rather than focusing on just the outside, just the beauty. There is more understanding,” von Unwerth said to WWD upon the opening of the show. That “understanding” is contagious; her work captures the distinct confidence of a woman treading through a world in which she is respected. It’s as satisfying–and as French–as a post-coital cigarette.

We can’t wait to see more.

photograph of Laetitia Costa and models in Bavaria
Pâte à modeler, Bavaria, 2015. Copyright Ellen von Unwerth–Courtesy La Hune.

 

ellen von unwerth photograph of naomi campbell
No Regrets, London, 2003. Copyright Ellen von Unwerth–Courtesy La Hune.

 

in love by ellen von unwerth, provocative black and white photo
In Love, Cannes, 2013. Copyright Ellen von Unwerth–Courtesy La Hune.

 

black and white photograph of two sexy women engaging in bdsm
Chimney Sweeper, Los Angeles, 2016. Copyright Ellen von Unwerth–Courtesy La Hune.

 

black and white photo of a french escort
Gentlemen’s Club, Paris, 1991. Copyright Ellen von Unwerth–Courtesy La Hune.

 

stylized photograph of two women playing in lingerie
Inspector Alice, Paris, 2009. Copyright Ellen von Unwerth–Courtesy La Hune.

 

ellen von unwerth
“The Tramp,” Paris. 1993. Copyright Ellen von Unwerth–Courtesy of La Hune

 

black and white photograph of women in lingerie
Sugar and Spice, Paris, 2003. Copyright Ellen von Unwerth–Courtesy of La Hune.

 

two women kissing on a grand piano
Sonate, Paris, 1990. Copyright Ellen von Unwerth–Courtesy of La Hune.

 

penelope cruz smoking a cigar
Penelope Cruz, Paris, 2003. Copyright Ellen von Unwerth–Courtesy of La Hune.