The body paint revival is certainly something to be celebrated. We like to think we had a hand in popularizing the trend way back in March of 1968, but in truth, it is a pastime that belongs to the free spirits of the late ’60s and early ’70s, who, completely whacked on the best San Francisco acid around, wanted to wear their (literal) kaleidoscope vision of the world on their sleeves.
It’s been reborn in 2013, albeit with less sunshine acid. Sports Illustrated made its mark this year with Kate Upton and so did we, with our latest incarnation of Pert Plus’ Animal Instincts shoot. But our inspiration came from way back in January of 1971, when we courted a countess into the wilderness and stalked the wild Veruschka:
Countess Vera Gottlieb von Lehndorff—she was born to Prussian nobility—is publicly known by the single name Veruschka, but is, perhaps, best remembered as the writhing subject of David Hemmings’ photographic attentions in the movie Blow-Up. A top model, she poses in or out of high-fashion ensembles (for the camera of Franco Rubartelli) with equal zeal. “For me, nudity is something natural, almost spontaneous,” she says. “I become aggressive and proud when I’m nude.” Showing she indeed has reason to be proud , Veruschka—adorned in little more than some imaginatively applied body paint—and Rubartelli have produced a striking Playboy pictorial.
Painted to portray the untamed creatures with which she’s so often compared, Veruschka blends alluringly—and chameleonlike—with her environment. But, unlike them, she’s completely at ease when caught by the photographer’s critical eye. “The camera,” she says when asked to explain the unself-conscious image she projects, “is my friend.”