YSL Muse Marina Schiano’s Scrapbook of Fame

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“I used to take a camera everywhere, like Andy,” says Marina Schiano on the phone from her home in Brazil, where she moved from New York a decade ago. Schiano, a former model, knew Warhol through her longtime boss, Yves Saint Laurent, for whom she worked right through the rococo ’70s, rising from running his men’s shop to becoming, as she puts it, his “alter ego.” “With Andy I had so many Polaroids. I had so much fun.” She was often in the right place at the right time, invited along for her alchemical chic, effusive and amusing. “Everybody loved me,” she says, believably. She knew how to make everyone look good around her. Schiano was born in Naples, Italy, and was taken up by the fashion photographer Hiro in the pages of ­Harper’s Bazaar in the late ’60s, which is how she eventually met, as she always calls him, “Yves.” Over the next few decades, she met most everyone else identifiable by a first name only, all the more so after she left fashion to work for “Tina” at Vanity Fair beginning in the late ’80s, styling celebrities with photographers like Herb Ritts, Bruce Weber, and Helmut Newton. “They have to trust you to transform them,” she says of her skittish, vain, famous charges. “It’s a special quality somehow to make them trust.” Her photographs are a diary of her being there, snapping away. But lest you think her some sort of proto-­tweeter, she declares that “I’m not interested in the iPhone or Instagram. Or … what is it called? Photo-­bombing.” Digital isn’t, to her mind, as “intime” as taking a photograph using film, when “it’s between you and the person. Talking to them. By knowing them or not knowing them. It comes out from them. Now it’s, ‘Let me see that. No, I don’t look good.’ ”       

*This article appears in the August 11, 2014, issue of New York Magazine.

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