Steven Meisel (b. New York, 1954) is an American fashion photographer who became known for his work in Vogue magazine —Italian and American editions— and for the photographs of her friend Madonna published in the 1992 book, Sex. Today, he is considered one of the most successful fashion photographers in the industry and regularly collaborates with Vogue and W magazines, both published by Condé Nast Publications.
At a very young age, Meisel used to draw women instead of using toys. His sources of inspiration were magazines like Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. Meisel dreamed of an upper-class woman, akin to Gloria Guinness and Babe Paley, embodying the ideal of elegance and high society. His other icons were his mother and sister.
At the age of 12, while obsessed with models like Twiggy, Veruschka and Jean Shrimpton, she asked some friends to call modeling agencies pretending to be Richard Avedon's secretary, in order to obtain photographs of the models. In order to meet Twiggy, Meisel waited for her outside Melvin Sokolsky's studio.
She studied at the High School of Art and Design and the New Parsons School of Design. There he attended various courses. However, he graduated only in Fashion Illustration.
One of his first jobs was as an illustrator for designer Halston. Meisel never thought he would become a photographer. He admired artists like Jerry Schatzberg, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, and Bert Stern. Later, while working as an illustrator for the Women's Wear Daily fashion newspaper, he went to the Elite modeling agency, where two girls who worked there allowed him to take pictures of some of the models. She would shoot them in her New York apartment or on the street: on weekdays she worked at Women's Wear Daily and on weekends she worked with the models. Some took their photos to Seventeen magazine, later, those in charge of the publication called Meisel and proposed to work with them.
Meisel currently works for many fashion magazines, including Italian, American and British Vogue. He has been the only photographer appointed to the cover of Vogue Italia for almost 27 years. Although his studio is located on New York's Wooster Street, he often rents out the studios at Pier59.
Meisel is credited with discovering or promoting many supermodels. Recently, she has catapulted the careers of models such as Sasha Pivovarova, Snejana Onopka, Coco Rocha and Karen Elson, including them regularly in Italian Vogue magazine and in various campaigns.
Meisel has been the "protégé" of editors Franca Sozzani (Italian Vogue) and Anna Wintour (American Vogue). He was a regular contributor to Italian Vogue and photographed the cover of each issue, something almost unheard of in the ever-changing fashion industry.
Using Italian Vogue as a platform, Meisel often creates controversial designs, juxtaposing fashion and politics or social standards. For example, in the September 2006 issue, Meisel played with the concept of restricted liberties after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. The beautiful and elegant models were conceived as either terrorists or highly trained police officers.</p >
The images caused a media stir, showing the models victimized and in violent compositions. It also drew a negative response from some feminist groups, which saw the role of women undermined by the male gender.
Meisel has worked for advertising campaigns for the fashion houses Versace, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana and Calvin Klein. He is also known for photographing the campaigns of each season of the Prada brand since 2004.
He is a great friend of the designer Anna Sui, with whom he has collaborated for the few advertising campaigns she carries out.