Fashion Seminars: Helmut Newton

View Master Seminars 2013 introduced us to the Helmut Newton’s provocative world.

Text: Danae Terzakou


Helmut Newton, the prolific, widely imitated fashion photographer whose humorous, erotically charged photos were a mainstay of Vogue and other publications, he died in January 2004 after a car crash in Hollywood. He was 83.

Born into a wealthy Jewish family in Berlin in 1920, he bought his first camera at 12. As a teenager, he was apprenticed to the German theatrical photographer Yva, who was also fond of the naked female shape. But in December 1938, at the tender age of 18, he was forced to leave Germany. He eventually arrived in Singapore, where, as he wrote, he became a gigolo. He moved to Australia, later earned citizenship, and served in the Australian Army for five years before opening his first photography studio in Melbourne in 1946. In 1948 he married June Browne, the photographer who uses the name Alice Springs professionally.

Inspired by the strength and allure of the female form, Mr. Newton reflected the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s, which corresponded with his rise to fame. His camera captured some of the most beautiful women in the world in poses that emphasized their sexuality, often with an accompanying sense of S&M and violence. His images were intended to shock, featuring ethereal, breath-talking -and often naked- women in the most peculiar poses.

Sadomasochism, pornography, murder, prostitution: each was utilized and explored in his photos throughout the years. Models, actresses and stunning women in general were depicted in the most queer and unexpected way: in orthopedic corsets, in wheelchairs or on all fours wearing a dog collar. His work was also closely associated with top designers, like Yves Saint Laurent whose penchant for tight, wide-shouldered suits and long-legged models suited him perfectly.

Along with photographers Herb Ritts, Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, Newton moved fashion photography from a staid reflection of the current year’s styles to a more art-like, glamorous presentation of mood and story. Unlike those contemporaries, who focused mainly on celebrities, Newton often preferred strapping, less known models. ”Helmut was very clear that he liked a big girl and blond girl, in an impeccable suit and high heels,” said Anna Wintour, the editor in chief of Vogue. “He would take that girl and put her in some wicked or naughty situation, kissing another woman or in handcuffs”.

Photographers Mara Desypris and Genevieve Majari, stylist Anna Zinchenko and Fashion Workshop’s teacher Dada Ioannidou talked to the latest fashion seminar of FWbVK about the immense work of the great photographer.


The speakers of the fashion seminar Genevieve Majari, Mara Desypris, Dada Ioannidou and Anna Zinchenko, together with Vicky Kaya.

The students of Fashion Writing, Katerina Goumopoulou and Danae Terzakou, introduce you to Helmut Newton through this video above. Enjoy!