Linda Spierings: a woman with a remarkable character and a revolutionary face. Embarking on her career in the 80s, she worked with many notable photographers; amongst them Irving Penn, who bestowed upon her the personal nickname of ‘Radar’. On top of that, Linda was the face of the first ever Comme des Garçons campaign.
You were actually studying Special Education?
Indeed! But I was always fascinated by how other people looked. At that time I had never walked on heels before! Maybe it was very interesting that I wasn’t so much aware of how I looked. If I didn’t work in fashion, I would have worked with children. I am still sometimes volunteering. Becoming a fashion model was very much by chance. I did a few shows in Amsterdam, then a dear friend, Frans Ankoné, asked me to work with him. Afterwards I was asked to come to Paris for the shows. I did 15 shows that first season.
What a wonderful first season!
Yes it was! I remember it was fun at Karl Lagerfeld; a lucid mind he is, with such humour! Mr. Lagerfeld said to me: “You know Linda, all the girls in the show are having a short haircut, so are you willing to cut your hair?” I looked at his long hair and responded: “No problem Mister Lagerfeld, I’ll cut my hair if you cut yours”. We had to laugh so much; he decided I was the only girl in the show with long hair.
Your look was very new for the 80s right?
The beauty ideal was indeed very different then. There were blondes and brunettes, very European, sometimes a black model, but even back than that was still very difficult. My look was very much in between; people didn’t really know what to do with me. The first photographer I worked with was Peter Lindbergh. He didn’t really like my book so he asked me to work with him. With Peter I also did the first Comme des Garçons campaign in 1982.
How was it to work on set?
I remember my first job for Vogue very well. It was with Polly Mellen and Irving Penn. I was twenty years old. Polly; all that energy, leaving nothing to chance. Irving Penn was an artist with more than the one talent, like many other talented people, I must say. He spoke with a very soft voice and always asked his assistants to tell the models how he wanted them to pose. It was all about details. I was always able to hear him so I’d change my hand before the assistant reached me, that’s why he nicknamed me: Radar.
Can you say fashion changed your life?
Becoming a model turned my life around 180 degrees. Fashion itself has not changed me so much. What changed is the way I am looking at myself now; how I look in a picture, how the images surprise me afterwards. It is the amazing cross-pollination I’ve experienced. The people I have met, the journeys I’ve been on. The ones that are still my friends today.
Why did you actually join this project?
I looked at the clothes, I thought; he dares to make a statement. For me it is not about having a great image of myself, I just really liked to join! It was the same for Azzedine, I also didn’t know how it would develop. To see the clothes, that was enough. I believe support is very important. Over the years I got a lot of support myself and sometimes, when you believe in something, you need to give it back.
PHOTOGRAPHY Meinke Klein - INTERVIEW Peet Dullaert - HAIR AND MAKE-UP Chiao Li Hsu, Jennifer Mackintosh and Harie von Wijnberge