The above portrait I shot of Bianca for the cover of Boulevard magazine (90s) almost did not happen due to a hedonistic lost weekend with Michael Roberts. Michael Roberts was the Fashion Editor and the stylist for the magazine. Michael went on become Fashion Editor of Tatler and the roving fashion editor of Vanity Fair, a stylist, acclaimed writer, photographer and artist. He has influenced a whole generation as well as being on of the wittiest critics of the fashion and art word, I can think of. He is currently writing and directing a book and documentary film on legendary shoe designer Manolo Blahnik for the British Film Institute.
That fateful weekend Michael and I accompanied by our dear Italian friends (who I won’t name but they know who they are!) went to a weekend house party, in the wilds of the country and got very baked. Taking a leaf out of the 60s book I proceeded to have a lot of psychedelic fun, and thoroughly indulged myself. I was gently recovering and drinking coffee on the Monday morning, in a serene hung over and still stoned state, when Michael suddenly jumped up as if he had been electrocuted and exclaimed
”Oh my God Clive we are supposed to be photographing Bianca Jagger this morning in Notting Hill Gate right now! ”
At which point we both leapt into action and came round from our gentle morning. Michael called the studio telling the hair and make up to get on with it as slowly as possible, and instructed his stylist assistant to get the clothes and accessories ready. Michael’s assistant informed us the Bianca was waiting for us, while she steamed the clothes to play for time.
“Well steam them again and take your time” Michael instructed her “We are on our way, say we where stuck in traffic”
We flashed through the traffic and made it to the studio, looking very jagged at the edges. Michael went into the dressing room to see if all was well, and after a few muffled words then laughter Michael came out smiling. “Bianca’s fine she understood, everything, well she was married to Mick Jagger so she’s used to the Rock n Roll life style.
Bianca came and sat under the spotlight and looked at me and leaning forward whispered “Are you ok Clive, you look a bit spaced out?” “I am, we were at an all weekend party madness and I’m still waiting for it to wear off” I whispered back “ I understand” she said with a knowing smile. The Hasselblad felt strange in my hands almost like putty, which was very bizarre. Bianca looked stunning under the light, then my work mode kicked in. Michael slipped these fabulous artificial fur bangles on her wrists, I asked her put her hands onto the side of her head, as the photograph was to be a cover and I got the shot despite the overwhelming floating sensation.
The next time I photographed Bianca was with the hairdresser Leonard. Leonard as well a being my dear close friend, and a genius with hair had the most amazing hands when he worked. He was always coming up with new ideas, in the photograph he wanted to do black & white hair. The resulting images came out really well, I thought (see above).
I first met Bianca on a shoot for Harpers Magazine, it was a personality shoot for a Christmas feature, each celebrity chose who they wanted to be, Bianca chose Columbine, she came out of make-up in full theatrical, fancy dress smiling nervously and slightly apprehensive. She asked me “How do I look?” Fabulous I said and I meant it. She really enjoyed being the Columbine and we laughed a lot. Bianca really took to the part so easily and was a joy to photograph. I saw her a couple of times socially after that and then sadly we lost touch but she has gone on to do the most wonderful charitable and socially conscious work for very diverse causes. I always felt she was a very caring, sympathetic, beautiful woman and she has now founded The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation.
- Clive Arrowsmith shoots stunning images, stages exhibitions, writes books, gives talks and runs workshops; and is as passionate about photography as he was when he first pressed the shutter at The Paris Collections. He is available for global media opportunities related to his work and photography generally. Bespoke prints from Clive’s archive are also available by special request, for any enquiries (email Eugenie here). Clive’s book Arrowsmith: Fashion, Beauty & Portraits is available here and Lowry at Home: Salford 1966 is available here