Paolo Roversi needs no introductions. But let’s give him one anyway, shall we? One of the greatest photographers of our time, whose extraordinary fashion pictures have graced the pages of all the best magazines for decades, Roversi is being celebrated at Milan’s Palazzo Reale with the exhibition Paolo Roversi “Storie”. Opening to the public on November 16th, the show is the crown’s jewel of the Vogue Photo Festival, four days of panels, lectures, and exhibitions spread across town and spearheaded by Italian Vogue’s senior photo editor Alessia Glaviano, who’s also the exhibition’s curator.
Roversi is an elegant, reserved man. Not unlike his pictures, he exudes a calm, intense magnetism. We met for a preview at Palazzo Reale, while he was still setting up his exhibition. The mayhem that normally surrounds such events was nowhere to be seen; instead the atmosphere was muted and serene, the light dimmed in a soft penumbra. He talked at length about his youth, his influences, and the never-before-seen photos of Rihanna that appear in the show.
I’d have loved so much to be hidden in your pocket to witness all that! Even Rihanna would have been jealous, would she not?
Rihanna, she’s great. I photographed her for an album cover in 2015; here in the exhibition we’re showing never-seen-before images of her. She’s fantastic, a true artist. We worked in my studio for two days. Her presence is extraordinary, how she moves, the confidence, the control over her body, the energy, the sensuality. She’s completely aware of the power of her beauty. She’s an artist, in the very same way that a good model is also an artist, not only a pretty face. My respect for them is just because I totally acknowledge their artistry. A good model must have charisma. Natalia [Vodianova], Kirsten Owen, Kate [Moss], Gemma Ward… all the models you’ll see in my show, they’re all true artists. They inspire me, they’re formidable interpreters, cut of the very same cloth as that of a gifted actress, a prima ballerina, a talented musician.