Step into the time capsule, and let’s rewind to 1973. We find ourselves in the City of Lights, Paris, caught in an incredible moment where two of the era’s brightest stars – David Bowie and Twiggy – converged to create a unique piece of pop culture history. This is the story behind the unforgettable cover photo of Bowie’s seventh studio album, ‘Pin Ups.’
Setting the Stage
David Bowie was a trailblazer, a rock icon known as much for his eclectic music as his distinctive, chameleonic style. Twiggy, the doe-eyed supermodel, was the face that defined the ’60s. When these two worlds collided in Paris during the recording of ‘Pin Ups,’ magic was bound to happen.
‘Pin Ups,’ produced by Bowie and Ken Scott, was being recorded at Château d’Hérouville following the completion of the Ziggy Stardust Tour. But our story isn’t about the music; it’s about an iconic photo, a photograph initially intended for Vogue magazine but ended up being the album’s cover image.
Creating the Cover: An Artistic Challenge
The task of capturing the two icons together fell upon Justin de Villeneuve, Twiggy’s manager and partner. But as de Villeneuve started the shoot, he faced a significant challenge: Twiggy’s recent holiday in the Bahamas had left her with a golden tan, a stark contrast to Bowie’s pale complexion. The difference was so striking that a shoulder shot would not have resulted in a balanced photograph.
Then came a stroke of genius from makeup artist Pierre La Roche. He suggested creating face masks to complement each other’s skin tones. The masks helped achieve the needed balance, and as the lens started to click, it became clear they had stumbled upon something extraordinary.
The Iconic Photo: Transcending Expectations
Looking at the photograph, one can see Twiggy looking straight at the camera, while Bowie seems to look right through it. The contrast, the enigmatic gazes, and the beautiful asymmetry all contribute to creating an image that is enduring and impactful.
When de Villeneuve showed Bowie the test Polaroids, Bowie was so impressed that he proposed using the image for the ‘Pin Ups’ record sleeve. After a bit of convincing, it was agreed upon, much to the chagrin of Vogue, which had initially hoped to feature the photo.
The Legacy of a Masterpiece
The photograph swiftly took on a life of its own. It was much more than a picture of two famous personalities; it captured an incredible moment of creative connection, a melding of worlds that felt both timely and timeless.
Interestingly, Bowie’s management launched a campaign in Los Angeles featuring a contest where the winner’s face would replace Twiggy’s. Hence, in the final version, ‘Twiggy’ looks somewhat strange. But that didn’t diminish the intrigue or appeal of the image.
In her autobiography, Twiggy described the photo as “enigmatic and strange,” labeling it one of her favorite images. It’s a sentiment echoed by many fans of Bowie and Twiggy alike, making the photograph not just a favorite but a true classic.
Today, the cover of Bowie’s ‘Pin Ups’ album stands as a symbol of a unique moment in pop culture history, a testament to the meeting of two icons, and a memento of an era of incredible creativity and change. As we look back, it’s a potent reminder of how art, music, and fashion intersect, each pushing the boundaries and blurring the lines in the pursuit of expression and brilliance.