Amid the kitsch décor of California’s landmark Madonna Inn, a cast of coquettes and femme fatales show off their seductive powers in Ellen von Unwerth’s highly stylized images. Whether revealing their illicit encounters or taking refuge in personal fantasy, Von Unwerth’s subjects belong to a secret world whose suggestiveness is mirrored in the legendary San Luis Obispo hotel’s decadent, saturated interiors. “I shot there a very long time ago with Stephanie Seymour,” recalls the photographer. “It is a very inspiring and funny place to shoot, with hundreds of different rooms.” One of Time magazine’s 100 Fashion Icons, former model Von Unwerth has shot everyone from movie stars to musicians, stacking up editorials for Vogue and i-D and campaigns for brands including Dior. Taken from Do Not Disturb!, her forthcoming show at London’s Michael Hoppen Gallery, Von Unwerth’s series reflects the wild mood and mix of personalities that prevailed on set. “We had the most amazing cast,” she enthuses. “Great models, actresses and funny characters; pin-up girls, burlesque dancers, friends… The girls were very wild!”
Ellen von Unwerth: Do not Disturb! runs from June 21 to August 31 at Michael Hoppen Gallery, London.