Losing his job and working with Ellen Von Unwerth
INGRID SISCHY: So you hire a guy that was a dentist, Wayne , and the next one that you hire is a girl that was a model, Ellen von Unwerth . She hadn’t been a photographer.
PAUL MARCIANO : I lose my job . I get fired.
INGRID SISCHY : You lose your job?
PAUL MARCIANO: I got fired by my bothers.
INGRID SISCHY : Because of the rodeo?
PAUL MARCIANO: No . We went to Seville in Spain and shot an entire bullfight, and when I brought the pictures back they said, “That’s it. You’ve lost it. You are losing your mind. What is this?” I said, “That’s the Guess image . I brought pictures of an entire bullfight with all the bullfighters — not a single Guess garment anywhere.
INGRID SISCHY: this is very important for Spain.
PAUL MARCIANO : It was in 1987, and we took pictures of the biggest bullfighter in Europe, Paco Ojeda.He never had anybody take pictures of him . He was so good looking,
but he was a very superstitious guy . So before a bullfight he always went to pray a lot in a church . He would not let us go in the church to shoot him, so we shot outside . We said , “Can we shoot at least one picture in your bedroom when you pray before going to the church?” So we took a picture , and all that is in the catalog, with him holding his cross. He’s kissing the cross and praying .
INGRID SISCHY : Oh my god .
PAUL MARCIANO : I mean , it’s incredible . I explained that to my brothers and they said, “You are crazy.” And I said, “But you understand the emotion . You understand the degree of heaviness that the guy might be dead in the next hour? Do you understand that?” “No , we don ‘t understand . We want jeans and T-shirts .” But this is what we ‘re trying to bring, the emotion .
Then we took pictures of the seven magnificent — like the movie, the seven magnificent
INGRID SISCHY : Yes, The Magnificent Seven.
PAUL MARCIANO : The magnificent seven walking in the bullfight area .
SANDY BRANT : Is this Wayne or Ellen at this point?
PAUL MARCIANO : Wayne and Leann . We shot the seven walking in with bullfighting costumes, in black and white. I mean , my hair right now, I have goose bumps just to talk about that . These pictures were so dramatic, were so beautiful. Then we took pictures from the back while he waited for the bull to go into the arena . Then we took pictures of him after he had been fighting and he had blood everywhere .I brought that to my brothers and they went ballistic .
Thank god I shot one pant and one skirt, but you barely can see it. 25 pictures of the bullfighters — two of these pictures were of a girl . And they said, “Forget it, you cannot do advertising anymore.” And he fired me . He fired me. I didn’t have a job for three months.
PAUL MARCIANO : 1987.
SANDY BRANT did they run?
PAUL MARCIANO : Oh, I ran the pictures because they didn’t see what I did . I gave them the pictures but I was always working with magazines directly. I placed all the ads, and they fired me. I have that in magazine — I mean, I have all the magazines, especially the very trendy magazines at the time . Don’t forget that I was already advertising in Europe and not selling a single garment.
INGRID SISCHY : Because there weren ‘t any . It’s not that they weren’t selling because no one wanted them .There was no distribution in Europe .
PAUL MARCIANO : I wanted to advertise in Italian Vogue, … arena, all the trendy magazines. The reason I wanted to establish and imagine the brand I see is from there, only from there. All the buyers of the world , all the people who understand fashion will see my image . I did that for years and years and years before we sold one pair of jeans in Europe.
INGRID SISCHY: it ‘s brilliant . Now how did you get your job back?
PAUL MARCIANO: They couldn’t find anybody to work with my brothers. [LAUGHTER] Nobody would work with George because he was impossible. Do that, do this, do that. He didn’t know where to go. He didn’t know where to call. So three months later they got me back. I don’t have a photographer.
So at the time, I saw two pictures in a magazine that I think was called The Face.
SANDY BRANT : Yeah, The Face, Ellen .
PAUL MARCIANO : Ellen .She did two pictures of a girl Rosemarie McGrotha, a major bombshell, and I think it was from Norma Kamali editorial . I saw the name of the photographer, Ellen von Unwerth .I looked everywhere. I called everybody. I called everyone to find her. Nobody could find her.
Three months later I found her. I went to Paris and stayed at the Bristol . We connected and she came to The Bristol. The concierge called me and says, “Somebody is waiting for you .” I look up and I’m sitting in the lobby waiting for her and I see this clown walk in . I mean, literally as a clown . (LAUGHTER) You think I’m kidding .
INGRID SISCHY: No, we don’t .
PAUL MARCIANO: As a clown. I see a clown walking in, curly hair, big smile, a long coat with stripes — not stripes but lateral stripes on her pants like a clown, a big striped pajama clown and shoes like a clown with a big thing at the end of the shoe. [LAUGHTER ] He said, “She ‘s waiting for you .”I said , “Who is waiting for me?” He said, “That ‘s Ellen Von Unwerth.” I said, “What?” He said, “Yeah, she said that’s her name .” I said, “Okay , bring her.” I’m talking like ’87. I’m talking like a long time ago.
INGRID SISCHY : And you didn’t know — she was just a model at that point . You didn’t know she had been a model?
PAUL MARCIANO: I did not know who she was .
INGRID SlSCHY: You had only seen the two pictures ?
PAUL MARCIANO : Two pictures of her black and white, a bombshell girl, a body like to die and so sexy and so suggestive and dreaming. We sat down and we said, “My name is Paul.” “My name is Ellen.” “Are you a photographer?” She said, “Yeah, just started . I was an assistant but before that I was a model” A model? She didn’t look like a model to me .She said, “I’m an assistant. My boyfriend was a photographer and I decided to do pictures, so I’m working between Paris, London and Frankfurt. “I don’t know where she was from.I said, “Well, I do pictures and I would like to work with you because I love what you did, but I want to be specific. I want to stay black and white. That is one condition. I will give you a lot of freedom. I don ‘t pay very well. I don’t have a big budget and I own the pictures always forever and ever . Like every model, every photographer and you just started . You can make your name
because ,” I said, “My commitment to you is to put your name on every ad in every magazine where I would put your pictures and we would be there ” She said, “That ‘s a deal .And that was the first deal.
I said, “The second thing I will give you is what nobody will give you — freedom. You are free to shoot what you want. I pick the final pictures. Shoot all you want. Shoot on the outline I give you, but I will not be there. I will be coming on location always . i will not be there to tell you, ‘Do this or do that,but I pick the final pictures on everything. But my decision is nonnegotiable. “I said, “You have to trust my judgment.”
PAUL MARCIANO I shot Carla Bruni when she just arrived in Paris . She was 16 years old . I shot Yasmeen, who was just beginning . I shot all of these girls .
SANDY BRANT : Who is the first model? For Ellen .
PAUL MARCIANO: Ah , for Ellen. It was Carrie Otis.
PAUL MARCIANO : We found her in Paris .
INGRID SISCHY : what is it about a girl that makes you go, “That’s her?” Like what was it about Carla Bruni? What is it about Carrie Otis? What is it?
PAUL MARCIANO : For example , if you take Carrie Otis, she was a model for two years. We found this girl who was a little bit like a little cat, little lion. And very white hair, very big lips, very big eyes — gorgeous. We ask her what have you done? She said , “I’m in Paris, but I have not been able to work because there is no work, no job .” “Have you done any campaign?” Nothing . “What did you do?” She said , “I do casting all the time, but I don ‘t get any jobs .” So Ellen said, “We are going to shoot you and we took her to Italy .
So we took her to Italy, but she has never done anything.
INGRID SITSCHY : Do the photographers choose or do you choose together?
PAUL MARCIANO : I always have – I would say with Ellen it has been 50/50. She finds a girl and I love her and we go together. I find a girl, she loves her, we go together . But it was always if I say no, it’s no.
Sometimes she pushes and sometimes I push . So that is Carrie Otis.
Carrie Otis, what do we do? We go and shoot her in a field. Somewhere near Portofino, or outside of Portofino . We do basically the Rita Hayworth look on a haystack.
SANDY BRANT : Haystack. Yes, it’s the Rita Hayworth –
PAUL MARCIANO : That was my first campaign with her .
And we shot that and we had incredible pictures with her. We made it very natural, very sensual, suggestive, but never vulgar. Never, ever. You look at these pictures and you dream.
Then we start to take pictures during break time at lunch and I was the one who decided to say, “I love these pictures.” Ellen, she said, “But I take pictures like that for my book .” I said, “No , I am going to publish that when she’s eating and when she’s on a break. ” What does she do on a break? She put a jacket on her because she is cold? What does she do? She eats pasta .What does she do? She is just laughing with the makeup artist and the hair stylist. We took the pictures and I decided to publish that . Nobody did that .