Fashion photography has long-shared an inextricable relationship with the allure of exotic animals—which have long-been thought to heighten a brand’s appeal and intensify its symbols and codes of exclusivity.
In a bid to construct a lucid fantasy-driven world, where haute couture is balanced and buoyed by its proximity to rare animals fashion photographers’ have sought out exotic locales and breeds with the same fervency, ever since fashion magazines have existed. For Vogue’s January 1926 issue, an illustrative cover depicted a model in a green gown, riding horseback on a zebra. For the better part of the 1960s and 70s, models like Apollonia and Lilly Daché were photographed time and time again dining with cheetahs (shot by Leombruno-Bodi) and lounging on the backs of giant turtles in Seychelles (captured by Norman Parkinson and styled by Grace Coddington).
A zebra and giraffes on the cover of “Vogue”, January 1926.
© ANDRE E. MARTY/CONDÉ NAST VIA GETTY IMAGES.
In Tim Walker’s infamous ‘Beauty and the Beast’ story for Vogue Italia, December 2015, he captured Kate Moss laden in contrasting monochromatic lace gowns, strewn on the floor of what looks like an abandoned palazzo, while a white horse bucks in the background. Meanwhile Steven Klein, who has a long history of shooting canines, horses and a host of rare animals in his editorial work, often uses them as a vehicle for provocation, giving a heightened sense of drama. For the May 2019 cover of Vogue Italia, Klein shot South Sudanese model Anok Yai in head-to-toe Dolce & Gabbana accompanied by a great dane.
The Beauty (Karlie Kloss) and the Beast, photographed by Steven Klein for “Vogue”, March 2013.