Stoppers: Photographs from My Life at Vogue By Phyllis Posnick
The name Phyllis Posnick is synonymous with Vogue and the extraordinary fashion editorials the magazine’s audience loves. Posnick is best known for creating photo editorials to illustrate the magazine’s Beauty and Health articles, but cast off any ideas you have about close-ups of lips and eyelashes. Instead, picture models bathed in paint or posing next to cuts of fresh meat. This collection invites readers to glimpse the complex production process—and the collaboration and creativity—behind each extraordinary editorial. The book features images by a who’s who of legendary photographers: Irving Penn, Steven Klein, Annie Leibovitz, Mario Testino, Patrick Demarchelier, Tim Walker, Anton Corbijn and Helmut Newton.
The following is an extract from Stoppers: Photographs from My Life at Vogue By Phyllis Posnick
Whoever coined the maxim “A picture is worth 1,000 words” clearly had Phyllis Posnick in mind. For more than twenty-five years now, I’ve had the huge privilege of working with Phyllis and publishing in Vogue the fruits of her labors with Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz, Bruce Weber, Steven Klein, Tim Walker, Patrick Demarchelier, Mario Testino, David Sims, Anton Corbijn, and, of course, Irving Penn, or Mr. Penn, as he was known around the Vogue offices. Phyllis is more than a match for all of these consummate and renowned image-makers, who have no doubt counted themselves extremely lucky to be partnered with such a gifted and formidable collaborator. Yet there was something particularly magical about her pairing with Mr. Penn. That relationship flourished because she, like him, could distill the essence of any given story into one single and solely memorable picture, be it a portrait, a still life, or some wonderful conceptual flight of fancy. But if you have leafed through this book, pausing again and again to gaze at her incredible body of work, which is by turns majestic, intimate, and provocative, then you already know that. One has only to meet Phyllis to understand her particular brand of brilliance. Everything about her is meticulously planned, carefully considered, expertly executed. She herself is a study in rigorous taste (a personal style that borders on the ascetic) contrasted with unexpected flourishes (her passion for monumental vintage modernist Scandinavian jewelry). You could say the same of her approach to her picture-making, which she studiously—and, I’m sure she won’t mind my saying, stubbornly—pursues in the name of originality and intelligence. Nothing is ever banal with Phyllis. She could be the creative offspring of Lee Miller and Luis Buñuel: from the former, a deep commitment to photojournalism, that an image should always convey a clear and direct meaning; and, from the latter, a twisted, surreal sense of humor, with Phyllis deploying a little shock value to draw you deeper into the narrative of the picture. She has certainly never shied away from taking risks, walking the line, going that little bit further to make a sitting work. I’ve always been amused by the tale of one of Phyllis’s assistants taking a call one day from her boyfriend, who casually asked where she was. “In a sex shop, again, buying props for a shoot with Steven Klein” came her reply. In Phyllis’s time at Vogue, she has wrangled everything—flora, fauna, insects, supermodels, movie stars, athletes, and all manner of titans of the cultural and political landscape. Phyllis makes every picture she takes for Vogue an adventure, and that, let me tell you, makes coming to work every day absolutely thrilling.
– ANNA WINTOUR
Copyright © 2016 Phyllis Posnick