Born in 1954, Steven Meisel’s obsession with aesthetics took seed early in his life. He sketched, observed, and researched everything to do with beauty and form.
Pouring over pages of magazines, his fascination with models grew along with his fixation with images.
Meisel spent his early teens delving into fashion, educating himself on topics like illustration and photography.
His cousin, ad exec Diane Rothschild, took him on a shoot with photographer Melvin Sokolsky, and his passion for models was born.
Upon graduating from the New York High School of Art and Design, where he had met and been inspired by the innovators of the time, Meisel enrolled in Parsons School of Design where he majored in Fashion Illustration.
While attending classes, he also met and developed close relationships with artists and designers in the school, becoming especially close with Designer Anna Sui.
His first job after leaving Parsons was as an Illustrator for Halston, which led to connections that garnered him a position at Women’s Wear Daily. It was at WWD where Meisel truly was exposed to all facets of fashion communication, and also where he was introduced to his mentor, Kenneth Paul Block.
Being surrounded by artistic talent influenced Meisel, and led him to start photographing test shoots. He contacted Elite NY and began shooting tests for their new faces, one of which, Phoebe Cates, would help kick-start his career in editorial photography.
A test that Meisel had shot with Cates landed on the photo desk of Seventeen magazines, and that led to his first real editorial shoots. From there, he went on to work for companies like W, Self, Lei, Per Lui, and WWD.
It was through Lei and Per Lui that he met Franca Sozzani, an editor who would become a long-time contributor of his. When Sozzani became Editor-In-Chief of Vogue Italia in 1988, the legendary partnership began and Meisel has shot every cover and most main fashion stories for the magazine ever since.
His reportage-style shoots and clear vision have contributed to his fame in the avant-garde photography world, and his relationship with Sozzani has become legendary.
His partnership with Sozzani and Vogue notwithstanding, Meisel also contributed to a number of other publications and projects – most notably Madonna’s controversial book, Sex.
In addition to earning and maintaining a reputation for being one of the greats in modern photography, Meisel also has a reputation for being a pioneer of new talent.
His relationships with up-and-coming models, make-up artists, stylists, and hair stylists have been instrumental in the careers of people like Linda Evangelista, Jessica Stam, Coco Rochas, and Pat McGrath.
His reclusive nature and reluctance to give interviews makes him one of fashion’s most elusive celebrities.