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Inside and outside Vincent Peters’ creative mind

Have you ever seen something so powerful that transcended time, age and even celebrity? Vincent Peters’ work, a cinematic orchestra of story and life, left us speechless.

Scarlett Johansson, New York, 2017 © Vincent Peters, Courtesy Palazzo Reale Milano

Scarlett Johansson, New York, 2017 © Vincent Peters, Courtesy Palazzo Reale Milano

Described as “the photographer who most understands women,” German-born Vincent Peters has ranked among the most sought-after portrait and fashion photographers of the last quarter century. With his large black and white shots gracing the pages of The Face, Vogue, GQ and Numéro or becoming campaigns for the likes of Armani, Hermès, Louis Vuitton and even Netflix, Peters has shown how to represent women more as actresses than models as well as how to portray actresses’ souls, transcending their celebrity status through exquisite lighting.

Monica Bellucci, Rome, 2006 © Vincent Peters, Courtesy Palazzo Reale Milano

Monica Bellucci, Rome, 2006 © Vincent Peters, Courtesy Palazzo Reale Milano

Born in Bremen in 1969, Peters moved to New York and then back to Europe. In 1999, he started at Giovanni Testino’s agency as a fashion photographer: from then on, his career took off. “With an aesthetic reminiscent of Jeanloup Sieff or Herb Ritts, Peters manages to capture even the most photographed of faces with previously unseen nuance, creating a new sense of intimacy with each subject,” stated experts from Fotografiska, a prominent photography museum in Stockholm. However, we travelled much less – at least physically – to see pieces of shadow and light shaped by Peters as emotions, associations and projections climbed to heights never reached before. 

“Timeless Time” was one such visual treat that took us on an almost-spiritual journey to a higher place that seems so otherworldly. The city of Milano inhabited the remarkable photographer Vincent Peter’s visual stories at the Palazzo Reale, and it has seen tremendous reviews since, to say the least. An assemblage of about 90 of his works in all shades of black and white adorned the gallery’s walls. The exhibition was curated by Alessia Glaviano, Curator and Head of Global PhotoVogue, produced and organised by Palazzo Reale and Nobile Agency, and promoted by Comune di Milano-Cultura.

Charlize Theron, New York, 2008 © Vincent Peters, Courtesy Palazzo Reale Milano

Charlize Theron, New York, 2008 © Vincent Peters, Courtesy Palazzo Reale Milano

So, why has the media industry seen Vincent Peters become the voice of contemporary photography over the years? As anticipated, he has a way of unfolding the untold stories of his muses through a mere black-and-white image in a frame. Moreover, what makes his style so special is his blend of numerous elements like shadows, reflections and chiaroscuro that makes the image dramatically dynamic. “A good description of nostalgia is that you’re missing things you never had,” Peters said once. His well-thought-out combinations are defined by light on a series of famous faces, leaving the viewers with a feeling of intense vicariousness. The glamour of the 1950s and the 60s is reflected by his models, who are made to have the earmarks of the Hollywood Divas of that time. The setting of the scenes he photographs his muses in are ever-so-often filled with a sense of sensuality and dreamlike qualities. In addition, the juxtaposition of contrasting lights and shadows makes it simply raw and mythical simultaneously. 

Emma Watson, London, 2012 © Vincent Peters, Courtesy Palazzo Reale Milano

Emma Watson, London, 2012 © Vincent Peters, Courtesy Palazzo Reale Milano

Throughout Peters’ career, he has worked with some of the best talents in the industry. Christian Bale, Penelope Cruz, Cindy Crawford, Emma Watson, and Kim Basinger are just a few of the renowned stars that had their portraits hanging on the perfectly-curated walls of Palazzo Reale. “A shot is like a conversation,” explained Peters in one of his interviews and that very idea is reflected in most of his portraits. It gives the feeling of a story or perhaps a narration of their lives that may or may not exist. Such is the beauty of his art that forces the viewer to think beyond reality. 

In Milano, this world of stories was thoughtfully packed in the walls of twelve rooms, with dim lighting that somehow enhanced the black-and-white photographs and presented them in all their glory. Old classics playing in the background made the experience nothing short of a cinematic Italian neorealistic masterpiece. The mood reflected the life of stars as ordinary people doing ordinary things as opposed to their glamorous and intangible lives as celebrities.

Amanda Seyfried, Paris, 2015 © Vincent Peters, Courtesy Palazzo Reale Milano

Amanda Seyfried, Paris, 2015 © Vincent Peters, Courtesy Palazzo Reale Milano

There is something magical about his endless experiments with mirrors and glass and the multitude of emotions a broken reflective surface can project. The portrait of Amanda Seyfried behind the broken glass shows a side of her that seems vulnerable and unfiltered. Perhaps it showcases the numerous characters she gets to play in real and reel-life.

 

 

Sakshi Rajesh
Fashion Promotion, Communication and Digital Media Master’s student, Milan
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postgraduate-Master's Degrees • Master's Courses