By Linda Morand
As a young woman, I was fortunate to meet Veruschka three times. Every time it was like being in the presence of someone very special.The first time was in Rome in 1969. She was legendary having appeared in countless spreads in Vogue and every top fashion magazine, as well as having appeared as Herself in Blow Up, the hot film of 1966. She was living with the great Italian photographer Franco Rubartelli. I was doing a little modeling in Rome and called at the studio for an audition and who answered the door but Veruschka herself! She was wearing delicate white linen slacks and a diaphanous shirt. She stood tall and tan and barefoot, her hair, straight and swinging below her shoulders. She had no makeup on. I was very young, dressed in hip-hugging bell bottoms and a fitted silk shirt with little boots. I was awed at the unexpected sight of this legendary model. Opening the door wide to let me in, she said hello and I said my name and agency. Very matter of factly she showed me to the photographer who looked at my book. Rubartelli was very handsome and managed a harmless Italian flirtation, which both flattered me and disappointed me. I was more in awe of Veruschka, moving around the studio than I was of him. On the walls were large pictures of Veruschka on the exotic voyages they took together for Vogue, Made possible by their fairy godmother, the great Diana Vreeland. The studio was model/photographer heaven.
The second encounter was at a hip party in Paris with top photographers and models. Veruschka was there. It was around 73/74. She was wearing 6 inch platform shoes and towered above everybody.
The last times were in Munich where I had an apartment. She was with Holgar Toltz then and had adopted her very odd, eccentric hippie look which she keeps to this day. She is down to earth, very Prussian, a dreamer yet remarkably pragmatic. I had the privilege of meeting Veruschka’s mother and sister. They were both very beautiful but not with the extreme body proportions that Veruschka has, yet with a similar beauty of face. The dowager countess was around 60. She lived in a villa outside Munich, something very big and old and elegant. There were many rooms and a finished basement where Countess von Lehndorf housed a rock band that she was mentoring. I can’t remember the name but they were good.
There were also a couple of artists in residence. One was my friend, Maria von Arendt. She had modeled awhile under the name of Bambi in the early 60s in Paris. Now she was an incredible painter who was being nurtured by the von Lehndorff’s. She was a very good friend of Veruschka’s sister. I spent a lot of time in Germany and learned about Veruschka in the local press. She is a superstar there, even more so than in the rest of the world.
She had something much more than her exotic beauty. It was her utter coolness, her detached way of looking at the body she had been given and using it as her instrument, or her canvas. Behind the beauty is a keen intelligence and a dry wit. She attracts men who love her and want to help her in her creativity.
Even if she had not caught the eye of Diana Vreeland and given that chance of a lifetime, to be an international Top Model/Supermodel, her spirit would have risen as an artist.
I am glad there are these pictures that reveal the fantastical romance of the Sixties where Veruschka was a brilliant light.