Antoine Verglas - Uninhibited Beauty
Antoine Verglas has been a household name among the brightest stars of photography since the early 90s. His “Verglas Signature” style changed the paradigm of the 90s photography.
During the era of big hair, big makeup and larger than life styling Verglas burst on the scene with a dressed down, documentary style intimate portraits. In black and white, none the less.
Intriguing and timeless, Verglas has the ability to not only capture how people are, the obvious beauty of flesh, but also who they are. Their personalities and nature, the less superficial, more hidden and often deeply erotic, inviting and daring, yet vulnerable.
As Heidi Klum says in the foreword of Verglas’s Untitled book “The photos themselves are captivating…sensual and provocative…but it’s each subject’s eyes that are so alluring…there is a mystery behind them.”
Born in Paris, Antoine Verglas went to business school, however before he even finished the degree he became a very successful commercial actor and went on to host a popular TV talk show on Channel 5 in France. It was an MTV style interview and music based episodic. He even interviewed Sharon Stone and James Brown. Perhaps it is his own experience in front of the camera that eventually made Verglas a great photographer. Since the TV channel was owned by Silvio Berlusconi, it eventually folded and thus changed the trajectory of Verglas’s career. He arrived to New York in 1989, with his then model girlfriend. By the end of the year had his first feature in French ELLE, having interviewed all the top models. Stephanie Seymour was on the cover. The same year he also photographed Claudia Schiffer, for the cover again. Eventually he captured all the stars of the era for magazines such as GQ, Sports Illustrated, Bazaar and Playboy among others. “Shortly after my arrival to New York I met Frederic Fekkai who really introduced me to the New York scene of the early 90s as well as The Hamptons. St Barth and Aspen. Another person who truly impacted my life was and my career was the late Monique Pillard, who was the right hand of John Casablancas at Elite. She sort of took me under her wing, nurtured my talent and enabled me to develop as a photographer.”
Verglas’s intrinsic quality seems to come from ability to inhabit the personal space of the subject, to become part of their world while behind the lens. There is almost always a definite quality of seduction, albeit who is seducing whom is often up to the viewer to decide. It is perhaps this very essence that makes his female subjects so alluring, yet so very human and relatable for the audience. The stars are captured as if unaware of the interaction being documented for the wider public, as if the moments are strictly private.
In this regard Verglas was revolutionary, and ahead of the curve, as proven by todays social media cult. In many ways, to lesser or larger degree, we all live in public at this point. In fact, by today’s standards much of the 90s photography is mildly ticklish, almost innocent. Sharing extremely personal sides of ones live has become a status quo, for pedestrians and celebrities alike. The landscapes of fashion and photography business have changed, especially since internet came along followed by the media convergence.
By having instinctive understanding that it is perhaps the storytelling aspect of photographs, certain invasion of privacy, that intrigues people, Verglas has cemented himself into the history of portraiture and fashion photography.
In many ways it is what remains hidden as much as what is being disclosed, as much about what is shared openly as well as what is held back. Much of his fashion photography has a fly on the wall quality. The subjects seem at complete ease, as if alone or in an intimate setting together, oblivious of the camera. Other photographs play with the covert and overt dynamics of The Gaze. So well established in the classic Hollywood era and in the cinema overall, the man watches, the woman appears. And yet, the woman’s awareness of being watched gives her more power than one could initially expect.
While we know the model is ultimately looking into a photographer’s lens, for the wide audience to consume later, it may as well be a lover or a friend. The audience feels like they are in on a secret, looking through a keyhole. Certain voyeuristic quality of the images is what made them sensational as well as classic. Verglas’s photography has endless appeal to the human nature itself.
Verglas is shooting and living between New York, Paris, St Barths and The Hamptons.
His images have exhibited, and sold, along the years through galleries and auction houses such as Christies and Phillips.
Recently he had a solo exhibit in Maxdi Gallery in SoHo, New York. He is the cofounder of St Barth Photo Festival, which launched in November 2021. Presently Verglas is planning multiple new projects as well as the first NFT drop.