Nature Nurtured
Nudes by Fashion Photographer Richard Warren

When Adam and Eve were thrust from the Garden of Eden, fashion found its first two victims. Style has evolved since then, from fig leaves to full-length Valentino, and for most of his career Richard Warren has documented the changing seasons in the pages of Vogue, Mademoiselle and Glamour. But in between long work weeks in Manhattan, he cultivated a garden around his Westchester home.
The plants he tended there were as exotic as any on earth, growing at their own set pace, and to their own particular measurements, quaintly oblivious to the rise and fall of hemlines. Warren documented that too — using film so slow the flowers couldn't hold still through a single exposure — preserving his surroundings on silver paper for his personal delectation.
But something was missing — the garden was lost without humanity. So he called models into his studio, and outfitted them not in florals but flora. Then he took classic black-and-white photographs through a century-old brass-ringed lens.
Which is not to say that Warren's pictures look back in time. Cloaked in the harvest of his garden, his subjects are all-too modern. There's no biblical modesty, no Old-Testament shame. The models have less relation to Eve than to Yves. His plants explore the body in all its sexual potential, embracing the flesh to expose its most private parts: a heft of breast, a length of tongue, a spread of legs.
A woman stands bare save for a single anthurium at her groin. The flower, which literally covers up her sexuality, figuratively calls attention to it with the blatancy of a mating call: she hides herself behind a sex organ more outrageous than her own. Flowers have it both ways, as everybody knows, and a woman with one between her legs comes across as male as well as female — an image as unnerving as it is arousing. —Jonathon Keats

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