10 Amazing Album Covers Shot by Fashion Photographers

This Record Store Day, we look back at the most memorable mergings of music and fashion photography

Music and fashion have long gone hand in hand — from the punk bands that ignited a bold, DIY approach to clothing to match their raw and raucous instrument wielding to the indelible link between hip-hop and streetwear. Today the two worlds remain as close as ever, with designers increasingly turning to musicians to soundtrack their shows or perform live on the runway (think: Eckhaus Latta‘s collaboration with Korean-American DJ, Yaeji for AW18, or Rick Owens’ ongoing championing of underground talent. 

It is unsurprising, then, to discover that over the years musicians have regularly turned to fashion photographers to capture their album covers, resulting in such perfect pairings as Lady Gaga and Nick Knight, both sticklers for high drama, or Ryan McGinley and Sigur Rós, pioneers of a contagious energy through their respective arts. In honour of Record Store Day, we’ve rounded up ten of the best of these collaborations to liven up your LP collection, or walls.  

 

Jean-Paul Goude x Grace Jones

Island Life (1985)

Arguably one of the most memorable album covers of all time, this arresting shot of a fabulously flexible Grace Jones is the brainchild of French photographer, illustrator and graphic designer, Jean-Paul Goude — also known for that photograph of Kim Kardashian for Paper Magazine. Goude met the American-Jamaican music icon in the late ’70s, whereafter she became his muse, lover and eventually mother to his son, Paulo. Jones is of course one of the most strikingly photogenic beings on earth, but here her lithe beauty truly shines. But before you book yourself into intensive yoga classes, rest assured that Goude did in fact manipulate the image to perfect Jones’s superhuman pose.

Juergen Teller x Everything But The Girl

Before Today (1997)

English musical duo Everything But The Girl were not only ahead of the zeitgeist in their sunshiny fusion of pop and electronica but also managed to harness the talents of Juergen Teller — for the candid cover of their 1997 album Before Today — just before the German photographer’s career explored. At the time of shooting, Teller had just begun his now-famous collaboration with Marc Jacobs and just one year later would be invited to present his first solo show at The Photographers Gallery in London.

Guy Bourdin x Boz Scaggs

Middle Man (1980)

According to an article by David Hepworth in Smash Hits magazine, American singer-songwriter Boz Scaggs approached inimitable French artist and fashion photographer Guy Bourdin to design the sleeve of his 1980 album, Middle Man, before he wrote the record to go in it. The result is a sultry, slide-out album artwork replete with Bourdin’s signature surrealist trappings, and accompanied by a suitably steamy soundtrack by Scaggs.  

Jean-Baptiste Mondino x Prince


Lovesexy (1988)

Prince has an impressive back catalogue of eye-catching album artwork but Lovesexy is definitely one of the sauciest contenders. For this sensuous portrait, he enlisted the skills of French fashion photographer and music video director Jean-Baptiste Mondino, who has lent his playful style to multiple campaigns for the likes of Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier. Here, Mondino has suggestively superimposed the singer onto the centre of a lily, its phallic stamen (evident in the adjacent flower) hidden from sight. In contrast, Prince, ever the performer, adopts a beatific expression and strikes a modest pose, reminiscent of Botticelli’s Venus, a halo of (purple) petals encircling his head.

Ryan McGinley x Sigur Rós


Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (2008)

Photographer Ryan McGinley found fame after a copy of his self-published book, The Kids are Alright found its way into the hands of curator Sylvia Wolf, who would go on to give McGinley his first solo show at the Whitney Museum in New York. His youth-centric images, which perfectly embody the anguish, joy and free spirit of early adulthood, saw him quickly enlisted by brands such as Calvin Klein and fashion titles like W and Dazed to lens campaigns and fashion stories. While in 2008, Icelandic avant-rockers Sigur Rós used one of his photographs — a vivid encapsulation of hedonistic summer fun, depicting a group of friends dashing naked across a deserted highway — for the cover of their equally energetic offering, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust.

Richard Avedon x Sly and the Family Stone

Fresh (1973)

When you think of Richard Avedon, it is his celebrated work at Vogue — where he shot countless mesmerising covers and editorials during his 23-year tenure — that first springs to mind. Lesser known, but no less brilliant, is this ecstatic cover portrait of Sly, from beloved ’70s funk band Sly and the Family Stone, immortalised mid-leap for the band’s 1973 album Fresh. Rolling Stone magazine has since named the album among the greatest of all time — Avedon’s joyful artwork serving as a suitably celebratory ode to the achievement.

Helmut Newton x Scorpions

Love at First Sting (1986)

If anyone knew how to ramp up the heat on photo shoots it was Helmut Newton — just look at his sensual campaign imagery for brands such as Thierry Mugler, Bluemarine and Yves Saint Laurent over the years. But the photographer didn’t only bring fire to fashion, he also shot this kinky cover for Love at First Sting, the 1986 album from German rockers, Scorpions. The image was banned immediately after its release, cementing the album’s cult status in music history.

Nobuyoshi Araki x Björk

Possibly Maybe (1996)

Nobuyoshi Araki is best known for his hypersexualised depictions of women bound by ropes, kinbaku-style — images he riffed upon in a recent campaign for Supreme. But he is also possessed of a softer, introspective side, demonstrated in his myriad photographs of cloud-filled skies and blossoming trees, and employed in a dreamy 2015 campaign for Bottega Veneta, starring Sung Jin Park and Saskia de Brauw. But long before that, he took this beautiful portrait of Björk, for her 1996 single Possibly Maybe, perfectly capturing the Icelandic star’s ethereal aura.

 

Nick Knight x Lady Gaga

Born this Way (2011)

Nick Knight’s photography is as subversive as it is spellbinding. The works he authored for Alexander McQueen and Yohji Yamamoto in the late ’90s demonstrate his early desire to push at the boundaries of fashion photography, exploring far darker themes than those of his predecessors in the medium. In 2011, Knight collaborated with rival maverick Lady Gaga, for her album, Born this Way. The pop-star, who is renowned for her outlandish outfits and stage demeanour, found her ideal counterpart in Knight, culminating in an unforgettable album cover that renders Gaga half woman, half machine.

Steven Meisel x Madonna

Like A Virgin Madonna (1984)

Originally a fashion illustrator at Women’s Wear Daily, Steven Meisel was slow to take up a career as a fashion photographer. But when he did, the world went wild. He was able to transfer his florid drawing technique to photography, capturing the very essence of anyone who found themselves before his lens. Madonna, who had also changed career tack — she was a dancer before she started to sing — understood how one discipline could serve to enhance another. The pair joined forces in the early 80s, Meisel shooting the brooding cover portrait fronting Like A Virgin in 1984, and image and album emblematic of Madonna’s early heyday. 

 

 

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