Helmut Newton's "Comme Jackie O"

May 06, 2019

Helmut Newton's

The Untold Story

We are excited to share with you the story behind one of Helmut Newton’s most sensational pieces “Comme Jackie O”, featuring one of his favourite and best-known supermodels, Linda Morand.

COMME JACKIE O

Perhaps the most remarkable work, at least for its sensationalist story, in the gallery’s collection is this photograph of super-model Linda Morand posing as Jackie Kennedy for French Vogue.

The two were well known for looking alike and Newton’s satirical reportage of Morand as Kennedy became an iconic Vogue spread. The notorious shoot emphasises the brave, single-mindedness of Helmut Newton’s creativity – his provocative perspective stretching even to the doors of the White House.

As the story goes, Richard Avedon sent a telegram to Newton following the shot congratulating him and letting him know that the First Lady was getting ready to sue Newton for defamation of image!

Excerpts from Linda Morand’s upcoming book reveals the true story behind the shoot of Newton’s most remarkable piece “Comme Jackie O.”

LINDA MORAND: INCOGNITO – A Daughter’s Search for Her Heritage

“At the end of WWII, the beautiful singer, Ava Martel, has a whirlwind romance with a handsome older man. Eighteen years later, coming of age in the Swinging Sixties, her daughter, Donna eerily resembles the most famous woman in the world. Disturbed by the mystery of her origins Donna becomes a Ford model and runs away to Paris in search of a long-buried family secret.”

In our first of two excerpts from her book, this is the real story of “Comme Jackie O”.

“The story is that the Vogue shoot was a take-off on Jackie but that is not the true story.

For my entire career, I had tried NOT to look like Jackie because she did not like it. I was disguising myself (rather unsuccessfully) with short hair and later with plucked eyebrows and dark lips, very un-Jackie.

One day I met Helmut Newton who encouraged me to celebrate my own beauty and own my image. He said I should not cut myhair, but wear it long and big, because it suited me and the look of the time.

He convinced me to stomp around the streets of Paris dressed in haute couture. I did wear couture at the time and had several garments in those styles. It was impossible to resist the temptation to be in Vogue and work with the great Master. (I had worked with him in 1966 at the French Space Center. Those pictures were very good but it was before Newton developed his distinct style.)

We used Vogue studio at Place de Bourbon. I remember that Ursula Andress was also being photographed that day, by someone else. She remarked that I looked so much like Jackie.

We went to the American Embassy and the Ritz. He would stake out a location, have me stand there near policemen or Marines or have me stroll by. Newton stood across the street and shot with a telephoto lens. It was all very unobtrusive and the Marines and police didn’t realize that I or they were being photographed.

He directed me to be very forceful, angry and strong, with a serious face. This was contrary to my more gentle, gamine style. The results are a testament to his skills not only as a photographer but also as a director. They looked like paparazzi style photos of Jackie.

The use of my name was important because as it turned out I looked exactly like Jackie O. She was livid. When the photos were published, people were calling Jackie from all over the world, freaking out that she was in Vogue. Then that read the fine print that said I was Linda Morand (Forquet de Dorne) a “certain client.”

Rumours of my parentage abounded. Oleg Cassini, who was a romantic interest of mine, was convinced I was Jackie’s secret half-sister. I was appalled. I denied it.”