Hedi Slimane photographed Brooke Shields for the pre-fall issue of V Magazine.
V interviewed Brooke, and she discussed working with Richard Avedon, Francesco Scavullo, Polly Mellen and the secret to her longevity:
Michael Martin: You’ve modelled basically since infancy. What’s your first memory of being in front of a camera?
Brooke Shields: I’m not sure if it’s because the story has been told to me so many times, but I have semblances of memory from my first shoot. I remember the environment at Scavullo’s studio. I was 11 months old, but I remember it was the first time I was in a room where I was part of the lights instead of with the people around them.
Brooke, photographed by Francesco Scavullo as a child.
MM: Working with the Scavullos, Avedons, Warhols of the world – how do you look back on that now?
BS: Only now do I look back on them as iconic. But when I remember my perspective at the time, these people were people I knew intimately, so I don’t think I looked at them the same way I do now, artistically. To be on the cover of Interview was to spend time with people I saw every day. I had respect out of love, and now I have respect for their careers.
MM: What do you remember about Avedon at work?
BS: I remember the separation between on set and off set was like this iron curtain. Once you went in there you were in a sanctuary. And people just jumped. I’m sure his assistants got scared and people cried, but I thought it was funny. I remember that I managed to get away with getting the Polaroids. He thought nothing about giving them to me. Anyone else couldn’t get them. I think, in hindsight, he respected my professionalism, and I remember wanting his approval so I worked harder.
MM: Why were you so professional so young?
BS: There was no room for me to have any tantrums. Everyone else was such a larger-than-life personality: The Polly Mellens of the world; the photographers were the stars. And my mom was sort of the crazy one. I was so young that I wanted to be accepted and liked. As a child, that worked for me. I’m sure that caused years and years of therapy later, but that’s another story. Something about being born and bred in New York, where people have to be at the top of their game to succeed, instilled that professionalism in my by osmosis.
MM: You’re the youngest person to be on the cover of Vogue. What did that do to your head at the time?
BS: Absolutely nothing, because I had no perspective on it. I still had to take off all the clothes, take off all the makeup, give it back, and go do my homework. It didn’t behoove me to carry that title to school, because it wouldn’t make kids want to be friends with me. Now I’m much more impressed with that title. Then I don’t even think I knew it. The crowning glory for me was getting a Seventeen cover. The first cover try I did, I didn’t get it. I was told I looked too old.
MM: When you were a kid, did you think you’d still be in the business now?
BS: I’ve never known anything but the business. it never occurred to me not to be in the business. It’s sort as if I was never not naked.
MM: Were you aware of the controversy swirling around Pretty Baby and the Calvin Klein ads at the time you did them?
BS: If you separate the actual making of the movie with Louis Malle and the actual filming of the commercials with Dick and Calvin, those actual moments felt creatively important. But the reaction to them was always a shock. The reaction never seemed proportionate to what we set out to do. The controversy was frustrating because it took away from the beauty and the creativity of it, particularly Pretty Baby. I thought it was a shame.
MM: And then there were the Calvin Klein commercials.
BS: People were obsessed with that one line in one commercial. Which they misquoted – repeatedly. That was shocking to me. We were walking walking around the stages, feeling like we were doing something new that had never been done before. But it seemed that no matter what I did after that, controversy would follow.