Friday, March 27, 2009

veruschka gräfin von lehndorff

"I dressed all in black and went to see all the top photographers, like Irving
Penn, and said, 'I am Veruschka who comes from the border between Russia,
Germany and Poland. I'd like to see what you can do with my face."
"I was always being different types of women. I copied Ursula Andress, Brigitte Bardot,
Greta Garbo. Then I got bored so I painted myself as an animal."

Veruschka von Lehndorff

Vera Gräfin von Lehndorff-Steinort (born May 14, 1939 in Königsberg, East Prussia, now known as Kaliningrad, Russia) is a German model, actress, and artist who was popular during the 1960s. Often known simply as Veruschka or Veruschka von Lehndorff, she is a daughter of Heinrich Graf von Lehndorff-Steinort, a member of the German Resistance.

Early life

Veruschka was born in 1939 in East Prussia as Vera Gottliebe Anna Gräfin von Lehndorff-Steinort. For a short time, she enjoyed a wealthy lifestyle residing in East Prussia in a large house on an enormous estate that had been in her family for centuries. Her mother was the former Countess Gottliebe von Kalnein (b. 1913). Her father was a German count and army reserve officer who became a key member of the German Resistance. Jewish sources claim that this happened after witnessing Jewish children being beaten and killed. When Veruschka was five years old, Heinrich Graf von Lehndorff-Steinort was executed for attempting to assassinate Adolf Hitler in the July 20 Plot. After his death, the remaining family members spent their times in labor camps until the end of World War II. By the end of the war, her family was left homeless. As a young girl, she attended 13 schools. Her traumatic childhood experiences later triggered heavy depression in 1974. She has three sisters: Marie Eleanore "Nona" (b. 1937, married Jan van Haeften and Wolf Siegfried Wagner, son of Wieland Wagner and grandson of composer Richard Wagner), Gabriele (b. 1942, married Armin, Edler Herr und Freiherr von Plotho), and Katharina (b. 1944, married Henrik Kappelhoff-Wulff).

Rise to fame

She studied art in Hamburg and then moved to Florence, where she was discovered at age 20 by the photographer Ugo Mulas and became a full-time model. Back then tall models were not considered desirable in Paris, but there she met Eileen Ford, head of the prestigious Ford Modeling Agency. In 1961, she moved to New York City, but she did not score any bookings. To stand out, she returned to Munich and told people that she was really from Russia and changed her name to create a mysterious persona, which earned her many bookings. She had also garnered attention when she made a brief five minute appearance in the 1966 cult film Blowup by Michelangelo Antonioni (Premiere named the scene the sexiest scene in film history although there was no nudity).

In the same year, she did her first shoot wearing nothing but body paint, which she would continue to do for years. She once worked with Salvador Dalí and photographer Peter Beard, who took her to Kenya, where she painted herself with black shoe polish to resemble surreal plants and animals in an attempt to "go native". At her peak, she earned as much as $10,000 a day. In 1975, however, she departed from the fashion industry due to disagreements with Grace Mirabella, the newly appointed editor-in-chief of Vogue, who wanted to change her image to make it more approachable to average women. In 1985, she entered the art world, putting on a body-painting show in Tribeca; on her naked body, she was painted with different outfits transforming her into wild animals and several archetypes, such as film stars, dandies, gangsters, and dirty old men. Occasionally, she still appears on catwalks, for example, as a guest model in the Melbourne Fashion Festival in 2000 in Australia. She is a vegetarian.

google and wikipedia


  1. oh my god. i've never heard of her before but now that you tipped me off to do some research, this woman is amazing. so tall too! lovely gorgeous vintage photos.

  2. Oh wow, these images are inspiring. That coat is insanely brilliant!!!

  3. she is an amazing woman.
    a true supermodel, if i've ever heard of one!

  4. my first thought was a shar pei. when i saw firs of photos... great photos. amazing lady!

  5. woah that picture of her crawling is insane!

  6. thanks for posting this, plus doing such great research on this one of a kind beauty and person

  7. that first picture is amazing! lovely photos

  8. anyone who worked with dali is amazing .

  9. ich liebe sie seit ich 13 bin. ich habe alle ihre bücher...abgesehen von neuen. 400 $ sind etw. unerschwinglich!

  10. Blow Up. Ist ein sehr netter Film.
    Und sie ist natürlich toll!

  11. I love your blog, since I have started blogging I have yet found a blog that truely inspires me, but I think I may have just found it!

  12. her first two photos are amazing..
    xx-LJ from SOS!



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