Harper's Bazaar (USA)
FOR ALMOST THREE DECADES, Amber Valletta and Craig McDean have been fashion’s answer to Penélope Cruz and Pedro Almodóvar: creative partners who, across ages and stages in both their lives and ours, have never failed to surprise. The pair first met on the set of a photo shoot in 1993 and since then have collaborated on a diverse range of magazine stories and campaigns that have routinely upended conventional ideas about beauty. Valletta grew up in the Great Plains of Oklahoma. Early on in her modeling career, her blue eyes and blondness had her pegged to be the industry’s next leading lady. But McDean, a photographer from Manchester, England, who had come of age in the booming 1980s club scene of the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, immediately recognized the quirky character actor lurking in her soul. Case in point: a magically moody December 1998 feature for Harper’s Bazaar on the color pink, which summoned the Diana Vreeland–esque dictum in the opening number of the 1957 film Funny Face to “think pink!” “Pink is Bazooka bubble gum, ballet slippers, Barbie dolls,” the accompanying text read. “It’s cloying, saccharine.” But by avoiding what was considered “pretty,” Valletta and McDean made pink dresses, hair, and lashes feel extraordinary—an expression of a beauty that’s more interior, individual, and modern.