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The Legend - Marisa Berenson
My lady, milady, comtessa. How should I address you? Or should I call you Vittoria Marisa Schiaparelli Berenson? Of course not. As always, I will call you darling.
The first time I met Marisa was about 15 years ago through a mutual friend. I don’t remember everything, but I do remember having lunch with Marisa at the Café de Flore.
The great thing about our business is that it doesn’t matter if you are in Kuala Lumpur or Mombasa, if you want to know something about a photographer or an actor, you just need to call a friend of a friend of that person and you will know in 2 seconds the truth about them. Anyway, my friend, David Croland, who is a particularly good friend of Marisa, gave me the seal of approval and Marisa, although being very shy, had total confidence in me.
I could not stop looking at Marisa. I knew her story but still I was fascinated to have in front of me Lady Lyndon, from the great film, Barry Lyndon, of Stanley Kubrick fame.
I know Marisa is bored of the past. Meeting people who come up always with the same things. The interviewer might say:
So you worked with some of the greatest directors in the world, Stanley Kubrick in Barry Lyndon, Bob Fosse in cabaret or Visconti in Death in Venice.
Can you tell us how … blah blah etc etc …
Marisa is a woman of the future. She is wholly interested in working on the next project. We did many photo shoots together, and we had a blast. I went to see her in a play, Berlin Kabarett, directed by Stephan Druet, where she leads one of the great Berlin cabarets during the Weimar Republic. The play is a success, a true-blue Berlin revue, the true Kabarett.
Anyway let's come back to Barry Lyndon. When I saw the movie, on the day it was released at exactly 2:30pm in the now defunct cinema on top of Rue de Rennes in Paris. I could not believe the beauty of Lady Lyndon. When it first came out, the movie was not a commercial success but for millions of movie buffs around the world this film is one of the greatest. This is how you build a legend. Marisa became a legend.
Now whatever she does as a model or as an actress she is always there, working on the best ventures.
I suppose an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Her grandmother - Elsa Schiaparelli – is the iconic fashion designer. It's pretty obvious that in her veins runs the blood of a dynasty.
We do share very similar values. Spirituality is one of them. She spent time in an ashram in India doing transcendental meditation. And family is another. I had the pleasure of spending time with her daughter, Starlite, and hope soon to meet her granddaughter, Luna.
As a photographer I have been very much inspired by her work and a lot of shoots I did for various magazines have a flavour of her.
As far as I am concerned, she deserves the label of "legend".
She is a legend now and will be for years and years.
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