Raquel Welch only had three lines in the 1966 movie One Million Years BC but the sight of her in a doe-skin bikini became an iconic image of the time. To a certain extent Raquel and her curves was more reminiscent of the glamazons of the Marilyn Monroe era and was a direct counter point to the waif like models appearing in 60s fashion magazines. However her beauty was such that she transcended fashion and was out in her own Raquel universe. In todays parlance the image of Raquel in that bikini would have broken the Internet
She was a curvaceous woman more in the mode of Sophia Loren or much like the Kardashian’s are today. You have to respect a woman who knows herself and doesn’t bow to fashion but sticks meticulously with what she knows works for her. Raquel for me just has something that lights up the screen be it for a film camera or at a photo shoot.
I was lucky enough to work with her for Hearst Magazines. Rarely have I known a celebrity take so much trouble with her own image, she visited all the best boutiques in London with my stylist and selected what she wanted to wear ahead of time. Raquel spent a lot of time preparing to be in front of the camera. When I worked with her she individually placed each eyelash on separately and discussed the minutest detail of every costume change.
I was absolutely taken aback by her effortless professionalism and poise in preparing herself to go in front of the camera. That level of commitment to getting it right is rare and she new what her brand was even before people were talking about any personality having their own brand. Raquel was and is an absolute expert at being Raquel. She was so familiar with the form of her body that however she posed it just worked. I remember saying to her, “Raquel you’ve done this before,” and her laughing.
As a photographer you sometimes have to make decisions about the angle of a hat or the way someone is looking but with Raquel I was very happy to let her just do her thing. It did mean she took a little bit longer but once she got in front of the camera I fully understood and respected her approach.
As the shoot was taking some time I knocked on the door and was called into the dressing room by Raquel who was in front of the mirror doing her eyelashes in a rather tiny bra and pants looking like the Goddess she is. As my regular readers will know I am rarely lost for words and could feel myself getting all hot and bothered and looking at my feet and shifting my weight from one leg to the next. I looked up and Ms. Welch who was grinning from ear to ear and laughing and said, “Clive, This is when you are supposed to tell me I look beautiful.” Without missing a beat and continuing to fix her lashes, a beautiful, naughty and witty woman.
I was genuinely stumped by that and retreated out of the dressing room back behind my camera, as I felt over stimulated and needed to be calmer. I did the shoot, completely over awed by the beauty of Ms. Welch. She played it like an icon, which is exactly what she is.