Photographers: Bill King, tribute to the king of the fashion pictures

"In December 1987 the photographic and fashion worlds turned out at the Frank Campbell funeral chapel in Manhattan to pay respects to a young photographer who had taken the industry by storm.

Bill King, who had died of complications of AIDS, was a “wonder boy” best known for his witty, energy-filled fashion images, shot elegantly against white seamless, in French and American Vogue. Today, however, King is barely mentioned in books and other histories of photography and fashion. “He has been erased,” says Naudet. “He needs to be remembered.”"

Jean-Jacques Naudet
American Photo's editor at large


Photo Italia1988, February
"Bill King: Tribute to the King of the fashion pictures, Bill King remembered by Franceline Prat from Vogue Paris, Jean Demachy from Elle France and fashion designer Enrico Coveri. "
Models: Walter Schupfer, Brian Lucas, Nick Constantino, Gale O'Neal, Renee Simonsen, Estelle Lefebure, Ashley Richardson, Janice Dickinson, Cindy Crawford, Elle McPherson, Brooke Shields, Annete Stai, David Bailey, Helmut Newton, Patrick Demarchelier, Mike Reinhardt, Arthur Elgort.

Vanity Fair
Year: August 1994, Issue #408
Models:  Jerry Hall, Iman, Carol Alt, Kim Alexis, Kelly Emberg and Rene Russo
Ph: Portrait by Robert Mapplethorpe.

"It has been seven years since photographer Bill King died of AIDS, but he has yet to be laid to rest. His final years remain a mystery to most of the people who thought they knew him best.

His story was not told when he died because he was one of the first major figures in the visual arts to be taken by AIDS, Although King died at 48 he had a prodigious output, his signature photographs were studio shots that were seamless in both background and foreground, rich celebrity photobiographies and energy-infused fashion photographs of "jumping" models.

There were also unpublished nudes-artful ones done at sittings for unfinished book projects, and others, taken at pre-safe-sex parties, which many top names in fashion and entertainment are praying never turn up.

The fortune he should have amassed as, in the words of one magazine art director, "probably one of the best photographers ever" is either spent or lost. And his bewildering will is still tied up in a legal battle between members of his family and his last protegé.

His considerable visual legacy is in limbo, And the story of how it got that way - and of how he came to be beloved, reviled, honored and pitied - is still quizzically whispered about in the fashion world, where faces come and go but behind of scenes giants such as Bill King survive the styles."

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