Five photographers take on the calla lily for the launch of Cavin Klein Beauty

Photography by Natasha V.

One understands the loveliness of the calla lily, its austerity offset with swooping curves. Keep in mind Diane Kruger, sleek in stark white Calvin Klein, at the Met gala in May, and you have a picture of how the flower fits into the Calvin Klein brand and became the inspiration for Beauty, its latest scent, for which the actress is the face.

The fragrance launched in Toronto last week with a soirée at the Terrace Room at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art.  To celebrate the launch, FASHION (sponsor of the event) commissioned five photographers–Caitlin Cronenberg, Karen Roze, Jody Rogac, Natasha V. and Davida Nemeroff–to interpret the calla lily in their own style.

For Toronto- and Paris-based shooter Karen Roze, the challenge was in giving the flowers an edge. “How do you make something that’s beautiful like a flower more mysterious? I thought I would shoot it in a dark way.” She created a moody atmosphere by surrounding the lilies with smoke for her curving, kaleidoscopic portrait.

Caitlin Cronenberg, whose book of nude photographs, Poser, came out earlier this year, treated the lily as if it were a model. “I don’t really shoot still life ever,” she explains. “I really wanted to try something that was basically the photo I would take with a person, but using this lily as the subject.” Cronenberg and art director Jessica Ennis treated the bloom with oil, paint and spray paint to give it a “post-apocalyptic” look. But there was a key difference from working with a model? “The calla lily was not emoting,” she laughs.

Asked whether using a single flower presented limitations, Natasha V. responds: “What is the limitation of the calla lily? I couldn’t see any limitations, actually. I saw very, very many things. Too many things.” The award-winning still-life photographer peeled open the flower and found that, unfurled, it reminded her of Antelope Canyon, an undulating, striated piece of the Arizona desert. “I love the idea that nature makes everything kind of the same,” she says. “It really just depends from what perspective you see something or not.”