It’s safe to say that Gunilla Lindblad, a flaxen-haired Swedish model who arrived in Paris in 1968, never imagined that she would be cast as the ultimate haute hippie in Vogue. Yet in the early seventies, Gunilla, posing for her husband photographer Jean Pierre Zachariasen in free-spirited fashions, created incredible images that captured the spirit of the times and showed how the grass-roots boho style could be achieved by women who liked the look but didn’t necessarily want the lifestyle. (There were only so many Rolling Stones to go around, after all.)
With festival season just getting warm, and the seventies back in fashion, bohomania shows no signs of slowing down. And while Kate Moss and Florence Welch might be the current standard-bearers of the look, its roots stretch way back to the late sixties and early seventies; and as far as the Vogue archives go, that road almost always leads back to Gunilla. So we reached out to this four-time cover girl, and asked her to share her story.
On Meeting Mrs. Vreeland
As Lindblad remembers it, Diana Vreeland was seated at her desk in in the Graybar Building when Sarah Slavin ushered her into the editor’s red-walled office. The raven-haired Vreeland, recalls Lindblad (then newly arrived in New York from Paris), “stood up, and she came towards me, and she took me in her arms, and she said: ‘I could eat you!’ I said: ‘Oh, thank you very much.’ I didn’t know what to say.”
Three days later, Gunilla and her husband, J. P. Zachariasen—who had initially resisted showing his portfolio to Vreeland—were booked for 20 pages in the magazine. It was the kick-off of a two-year journey that would result in images that defined the haute hippie look.
Coup de Foudre
Lindblad and Zachariasen’s story began two years earlier, in April 1968 in the South of France. The Swede from Malmö first laid eyes on the Parisian journalist, on hand to help drive and model as a favor to a friend, in the airport in Marseille, after which they never parted.
The Vogue Years
Their first Vogue story, on fake furs—worn shaggy and with scarf-wrapped heads—was shot in Central Park (call time 5:00 a.m.) and was followed by a trip to OMS Ontario Motor Speedway in California where Gunilla posed with the rugged actor Pete Duel, race-car driver John Guedel, and, as Lindblad remembers it, a rather recalcitrant Michael Douglas. And then it was on to Fiji in a 707 that was empty from Hawaii to the newly independent country.
“The editor was Babs Simpson and me, no hairdresser, no makeup person, no assistant,” Gunilla says. “It was the three of us. So Diana Vreeland told me, she said: ‘Gunilla, I want you to do your own makeup every day. It has to match the dresses, so if you wear purple you have to put purple makeup. I want you to wash your hair every day so it’s totally clean.’” (This was haute hippie fashion, after all—no sweaty, slept-in locks allowed.) Simpson, an avid bird-watcher, left much of the styling to the smiling Gunilla who modeled “sixteen pages of marvelous and unexorbitant clothes for suntime.” Many of these were in dramatic cotton prints, cut to keep the midriff bare, and accessorized with head scarfs, fringed belts, gladiator sandals, and broad-rimmed hats—bohemian staples then and now.
On Working with Helmut Newton
The Zachariasens’ photographic partnership in Vogue was brief, if memorable, but their love affair with each other, and with fashion, didn’t end there. A year after the Fiji shoot, Gunilla (a four-time Vogue cover girl) was shot by Helmut Newton, in a very different guise. (“Gunilla was one of Helmut’s favorite models—he had this thing about tall blondes,” one-time Vogue editor Mary Russell has said.) Fashion was changing, and Gunilla was cast as a polished bourgeoise (a bit like Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour: proper icy exterior, but with strong sexual undercurrents). “He was so innovative,” Gunilla says of Newton. “[At the time] everything had to be so styled, [but] he liked to shoot the electric outlet in the background, for example. At the same time he wanted the girls to have perfect red nails—always we had to have red nails—and the hair. For a long time he wanted me to curl it and to have very full volume. They built it up in the back with stiff paper.”
On Opening Paris’s First Concept Boutique
In the mid-seventies, Zachariasen, who by this point had put down his camera, in partnership with Gunilla, his brother Olivier, and a stylist named Catherine Barade, opened a bazaar in Les Halles, “the stomach of Paris,” Zachariasen says. They called it Upla, removing just one P from the existing storefront, originally home to the Union of Milk and Poultry Products (Union des produits laitiers et Avicoles). “The idea was a little bit like an old-fashioned general store in the western part of the United States,” says Zachariasen, who had the idea of importing American workwear to Paris after becoming “fascinated with the way the construction workers were dressed,” in New York.
“It’s a little bit like what Colette is today,” Gunilla explains. The first to carry Kiehl’s, they also sold products from Santa Maria Novella, Belgian shoes, bikes from Holland, furniture, and designs by designers including two then-unknowns, Claude Montana and Azzedine Alaïa. They made a smash with their own label bags, hunting style but done in bright hues, and Smith’s painter’s pants (a so-called “anti-jean”), which they ordered in colors and imported from jobbers Zachariasen tracked down in Freeport, Long Island. “They thought I was totally crazy,” the Parisian says, but then Caroline of Monaco bought the jeans and they became very fashionable indeed. “It was the seventies,” Zachariasen says by way of explanation and “it was pretty spontaneous.”
On Real Seventies Style
Spontaneous, also, were the shows Kenzo Takada put on. The Paris-based Japanese designer was, Gunilla says, “one of the hottest designers at the time, for models. Everybody was dressed in Kenzo because he was really the one who started all the catwalks. Before, all the fashion designers’ [shows] were very structured—you were wearing a number . . . The pret-a-porter had not really started. It was really Kenzo who was leading the way—and Yves Saint Laurent also (I remember buying a lot of pants at Saint Laurent)—but Kenzo was the young one. What he did, he booked all the top models, who were photographed in the magazines, so it was fabulous doing his shows, and very often he gave you clothes or you were paid in clothes; it was a lot of fun. The show was always like two hours late, always on a Monday evening at seven o’clock. Nobody had eaten and they would give us cheap champagne . . . once I dropped a skirt and I didn’t even know! (It was in silk, he had all these layers of silk skirts, one on top of the other.) Karl Lagerfeld was there, watching. Saint Laurent was there. It was the show to see.”
The post Meet Gunilla Lindblad, the Swedish Model Who Defined the Haute Hippie Look in ’70s Vogue appeared first on Vogue.
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