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By Max Vadukul in 1983

It was September 1983. I was staying for a week at my artist Tony Viramontes’ Paris flat while working as the showroom model of Yohji Yamamoto. There were other friends of Tony’s crashing there too: models, muses, hangers on…the usual entourage. But I had my own mattress in a corner of the living room which was also his studio.

     I owed one to my friend from boarding school, Lucinda Chambers. Lucinda was working at Vogue UK at the time, I think she was the assistant of Grace Coddington then, or maybe not…in any case, thanks to Lucinda, Tony got his first Vogue UK commission, and that was a series of illustrations of luxurious hats modeled by Tony’s muse; the very fierce and androgynous Leslie Winer.

     Lucinda called me to ask me if I could look at a portfolio of a young photographer that she had discovered, Max Vadukul. When I received the portfolio I thought it was a mistake: Lucinda told me that Max wanted to shoot portraits and fashion and all I could see in it were cats. Black cats in Highgate Cemetery. It was stunning work though. The black and white shots were bare, stark…kind of eery. I loved the book. We arranged to meet at Tony’s studio early in the morning before I went off to work. 

     Max arrived, shy and polite. He had no idea who Tony was or what was was going on in that chaotic space. I remember that Tony was putting on my makeup and doing my hair because he did not want me to go to Yohji’s looking so “natural,” so plain. The sun was pouring in through the floor to ceiling windows and the music was already playing loud. I was impressed with Max Vadukul; he was very serious and focused and grownup even if he looked like a clueless skinny kid. he had a Rolleiflex with him. 

     At one point Max asked if he could take a picture of us in the studio. Tony grabbed one of his favorite props off the wall: a matador’s hat and told me to take off my shirt. Then he turned to Max and said: ‘If she’s topless, you’re topless too.’

     Max set his camera on self-timer and moved me to a sun-lit wall where Tony’s wigs were hanging on. He propped me on a stool right under a long black hair extension and his camera went off.

     Max went on to become an established photographer working for The New Yorker, many Vogues, Rolling Stone magazine, the New York Times Style magazine and W

     Thirty six years later, Max digs into his archive and finds the shot.

 

Eugenia Melian & Max Vadukul in the Tony Viramontes studio. Paris 1983. Photographed by Max Vadukul. The Max Vadukul archive.
Eugenia Melian & Max Vadukul in the Tony Viramontes studio. Paris 1983. Photographed by Max Vadukul. The Max Vadukul archive.



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