What you get: 82 black-and-white photographic plates, most of which are formatted to fill the entire page. With a few exceptions, all were taken from the late-80s to the mid-90s, and about half were taken from fashion magazines or designer ads. Most are of people, the majority of whom are recognizable (to me) celebrities. About one-forth feature the nude or semi-nude female body. For good measure, a couple pictues featuring members of the Demarchelier family are also included. All photographs are presented "stand-alone," with no notes or credits; however, this information is clearly referenced at the back of the book.
What you see: a straightforwardness of subject matter. Where other photographers might dazzle by snaring a moment in time from an event (e.g., Robert Doisneau), Demarchelier presents his subjects with no mystery as to what the viewer is to behold: the intricacies of the baobab branches in contrast to its massive trunk; the variations in lighting between two figures, one illuminated, one silhouetted, seated in front of a window; or the calm, confident gaze of Christy Turlington wearing only a tangle of wet hair, and a sheet around her hips. The side-by-side photos of Helena Christensen are perhaps the best of her ever, as may be the one of Turlington. Not to forget the face: the shots of Versace, César, Corbassière and Nastassja Kinski are absolute gems. I'm having a hard time puting this book down, and I'd love to know who that is hanging from the tree on the front cover.
Although Patrick Demarchelier is known as a fashion photographer, most of the images of top models and celebrities in this book are really portaits, many of them nudes. These photos are masterpeices of B&W portaiture. Among the great photographers who have published photo books, there are less than 5 I know that are in Demarchelier's league.
There are so many great images in this book. The nudes of Helena Christensen and Cindy Crawford are especially superb. Incidentally, contact sheets from the nudes of Cindy Crawford were recently expositioned by DeMarchelier.
If you appriciate great black and white photography, you will probably love this book.
If you are interested in looking at photos of celebrities, you will probably love this book.
If you are offended by nudity, even artistic nudes, you should probably avoid this book.