Peter Lindbergh attends his exhibition in Milan in 2000
Gino Begotti—Camera Press/Redux
September 5, 2019 5:53 AM EDT

The era of the Supermodel began with one image: models Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell (in portrait below), Cindy Crawford and Tatjana Patitz on the cover of the January 1990 issue of British Vogue. The man who brought them together was German photographer Peter Lindbergh, whose monochromatic interpretation of high-low glamour launched the women to international superstardom. In doing so, he changed the visual culture of contemporary fashion.

Lindbergh, who died Sept. 3 at 74, was one of the industry’s most trusted photographers. His affinity for shooting in black and white was as well-known as his distaste for ageism and artifice. He championed women as they were, in stripped-down yet elegant portraits, intimate images that defied the shallowness often associated with fashion. The world may look for “perfection and youth,” he told TIME in 2016, but beauty “is about emotions.” Lindbergh photographed the world’s most famous faces–but in his pursuit of real beauty, what he was really looking for was soul.

This appears in the September 16, 2019 issue of TIME.

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