From Scavullo to Meisel, Magali Amadei takes us through her greatest shots

Magali Amadei first burst onto the scene in the early 90s, an enigmatic Frenchwoman with Old Hollywood beauty. Here she takes us through some of her most memorable fashion moments, from Liz Tilberis’ Harper’s Bazaar with frequent collaborator Peter Lindbergh to the cover of Cosmo with the legendary Scavullo.

Image photographed by Steven Klein, courtesy Magali Amadei/Q Models

Mademoiselle, February 1992
Photographed by Steven Klein.

This is my first cover. This was weeks after I started modeling. I had just arrived in New York and thought I would be there for a 2-week holiday/work trip. Unlike most models, my career started in NYC, not in Europe. Steven Klein shot it. I had no idea who he was, but I felt safe with him and totally had a crush on him. Steven had the most beautiful voice. I was super nervous and probably understood one word out of 10, my English was learned in France so I learned British English and the American accent was just too much for my brain. Throughout the years, as I kept working with him and understood him more, I learned to appreciate him for more than his voice. Thank you Steven for having been kind to me that day. I probably would have flown back to France if you hadn’t!

Image photographed by Steven Meisel, courtesy Magali Amadei/Q Models

Vogue Italia, March 1992
Photographed by Steven Meisel. Styled by Lori Goldstein. Hair by Garren . Makeup by Laura Mercier.

I shot this within a month of having arrived in NYC. I knew working with Steven was a big deal, and I knew Italian Vogue was the fashion bible. When Steven asked me if I would cut my hair, even though my late agent Pauline advised me not to and to make him wait, I said yes. Garren gave me the haircut that defined my Sophia Lauren-Ava Gardner look and a big part of my career. I was in shock and laser-focused. Steven played one song from Massive Attack, Blue Lines, over and over and over and kept giving me precise, meticulous directions. I loved it. In all aspects of the experience, it was a great high. It started a long relationship with Italian Vogue; Anna Dello Russo, Walter Chin, and Serge Normant, and I traveled the world for years for that magazine. All those pictures are classic beauties.

Image photographed by Peter Lindbergh, courtesy Magali Amadei/Q Models

Harper’s Bazaar, September 1992
Photographed by Peter Lindbergh. Hair by Odile Gilbert. Makeup by Stephane Marais.

That was the year Harper’s changed their look. The September issue. Their budget for that issue was massive, so we had a massive shoot in New Mexico, near Santa Fe. I flew in a couple of days early to “rest and get tanned,” get pampered, take some polaroids to see what looks would work, etc. These were the golden times with the golden team. I discovered the desert, adobes, Navajo culture, Southwestern art, and fell in love. I ended up moving there for 4 years. Working with Peter was always an honor as he was one big teddy bear you just wanted to be hugged by. He had the absolute best laugh. Odile is an endless mountain of creativity and Stephane a master of textures and shadows. They always managed to make me feel beautiful, even in 110 degrees, sweaty, dusty, bug-filled deserts!

Image photographed by Ellen von Unwerth, courtesy Magali Amadei/Q Models

Strenesse, 1993
Photographed by Ellen von Unwerth. Styled by Joe McKenna. Hair by Danilo. Makeup by Laurie Starrett.

Ellen gave me lots of freedom. She took pictures like a director would shoot a film. I got hooked. Working with her was like being part of a theatrical set. We shot this through the streets of Italy, and it was like being home. I particularly remember Laurie on this shoot: the king of smoky eyes. He was so brilliant and kind. He got into my heart, and as so many at that time, he left us too soon.

Image photographed by Francesco Scavullo, courtesy Magali Amadei/Q Models

Cosmopolitan, March 1994
Photographed by Francesco Scavullo. Makeup by Kevyn Aucoin.

Working with Scavullo was so intimidating and yet so intimate. He was a giant of another generation for me and getting a Cosmo cover sure was a status stamp. Kevin, of course, redesigned and remodeled my face like no one had ever done and no one has ever done since with his makeup. It was the first time I worked with him, and I remember it as if it was yesterday. I remember each time, actually. He was a perfectionist and demanded as much from himself as he did from others. I could not breathe in that dress and my breasts were taped with duct tape. Because retouching was not as common and prevalent as it is today, we sure did all kinds of things to look the way we did! Mostly it took talent, a lot of it, and those 2 were some of the most talented people in the industry. So I held my breath, tried not to worry about how that duct tape would come off, and trusted them.


Image photographed by Jim Jordan, courtesy Magali Amadei/Q Models

Malibu Magazine, August/September 2005
Photographed by Jim Jordan.

Halfway through the shoot, I told the team I was pregnant. I couldn’t keep it to myself anymore. I was very fortunate and loved being pregnant. I kept wondering if people would be able to tell by looking at the pictures as if the “pregnancy glow” would actually change something in the images. One of my favorite memories and a defining change in my life, the biggest and best to this day, my daughter.

Image photographed by Andreas Ortner, courtesy Magali Amadei/Q Models

Harper’s Bazaar Turkey, 2016
Photographed by Andreas Ortner. Hair & makeup by Gianluca Mandelli. Edited by Pia and Tinka Valerie.

Being in my 40’s and being photographed in a white bathing suit in full daylight had never been on my bucket list, and yet it felt amazing. This was one of the first shoots I did after recovering from Lyme disease and I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to. Andreas was so kind and took great care of me. These pictures are my personal health comeback celebration.

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