Josie Borain, self-portrait.
Between shows, shoots and a million-dollar Calvin Klein contract, 80s supermodel Josie Borain’s true love was photojournalism. With the most compelling of subjects and an inimitable perspective, the girl from South Africa preserved a world with her Leica.
“I was kind of like Tarzan. Taken out of the bush, into couture.”
The French photographer Pierre Houlès gave Borain her first Leica after they met in Paris, and encouraged her to shoot everything she saw as her modelling career gained speed. It was a love affair twofold: Houlès would become Borain’s husband and the Leica, too, would become an indispensable part of her life.
“I just started taking pictures and it became a hobby … It was nice for me because I’m not that kind of girl who sits around and chats, smokes cigarettes, or whatever the girls do when they’re in the back and waiting for the fashion show to start.”
Her backstage shots preserve the strange cocktail of languidness and fervour that forms in anticipation of a runway show; the quiet junctures in between and the shimmering momentum of models on the verge of superstardom. They capture Turlington in waiting, Crawford in a blur of blush and Elle Macpherson – resplendent in rollers – applying eye makeup. Another finds Evangelista leaning joyously from a car during a shoot with Peter Lindbergh for Jil Sander.
“I was always photographed as an androgynous person. And I think I took pictures of myself to say, ‘hey I’m here’– because when you’re behind the camera [on a fashion shoot], you’re not in the picture.”