CUTTING EDGE ESSAY WINNER
"CUT IT OUT"
DETOUR, JUNE-JULY 1997
"People say photographs don't lie," declares David LaChapelle, "Mine do." Making bizarre use of prostheses and digital retouching techniques, he creates images that are unlike anything seen in the real world-at least so far. But if his pictures art not to be taken literally, photo essays like "Cut It Out" nonetheless reflect the world around us. "I'm deeply interested in the way people are altering their faces and bodies, he explains. "After a certain amount of plastic surgery, people begin to look neither young nor old, and this is the first time in history that people have had this exploring the possibilities of where plastic surgery might be going. In a strange way, I find them beautiful. Sometimes, for me, beauty is simply something I haven't seen before."
STYLE PHOTO WINNER DAVID LACHAPELLE "ALEXANDER MCQUEEN" VANITY FAIR, MARCH 1997
What's the best way to capture the subversive energy of Alexander McQueen, Britain's most radical fashion designer? Put him in a dress and rubber gloves, says David LaChapelle, then give him a torch and watch as he symbolically "burns down the house of couture." LaChapelle is famous for his digitally altered images, but in this case, he reports with delight, both the 12th century Norman castle and the flames are real. "In America we tend to be precious about grand old buildings because we don't have many," he says. "But in Europe they have so many castles, their attitude is 'You want to put fire in the window? Cool.' We had pyrotechnicians and loads and loads of flame bars. Afterward, when the caretaker saw the burn marks on the building, he said, 'They add something to the romance of the castle.'"