Photographer Kelly Klein Talks New Coffee Table Tome

Courtesy of Rizzoli USA
The cover of 'Photographs by Kelly Klein'

Calvin Klein's ex-wife — who has photographed the likes of David Bowie, Kate Moss and Gisele Bundchen — describes her latest project as "a photographic journey of my life."

"It’s a photographic journey of my life the best way I can tell it," said Kelly Klein, at the book signing celebrating the release of Photographs by Kelly Klein (Rizzoli New York), at Bookmarc on Saturday evening in Los Angeles. "I’ve captured memories that were important to me and moments that I will never forget."

One such moment is a 1981 photograph of her ex-husband Calvin Klein with Barry Diller, David Geffen and Sandy Gallin as they napped on a yacht. The image is fittingly captioned: "four moguls sleeping aboard Midnight Saga."

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The pages are filled with familiar faces that date back 20 to 35 years — David Bowie with wife Iman; Bruce Weber, Anna Wintour and Marc Jacobs at Kelly Klein's 1994 birthday party at NYC’s Indochine; a shirtless John F. Kennedy Jr. poolside in Amagansett, N.Y.; Madonna at a 1990 dinner celebrating Calvin Klein’s costume designs for Martha Graham’s ballet; and a who’s who of supermodels during their younger days.

"I worked with them when they became famous, but I also worked with them when it was just a girl named Kate, a girl named Gisele," she said of Kate Moss and Gisele Bundchen.

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It’s the photographer’s seventh book release, but this time is different. It’s personal. “I’ve always curated and written, but they’ve never been my photographs,” she said of her past works, where she’s showcased images of various photographers in books like Pools and Horse. “About three-and-a-half years ago, I decided to really pull all my archives out of storage, and day by day, I went through thousands and thousands of negatives and polaroids.”

The book is full of fashion photography outtakes and includes shots of nature — flowers and landscapes — as well as some Instagram snaps. "I’m a big Instagramer," said the soft-spoken shutterbug.

Klein, who graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology, began her career in fashion at Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. Her big break as a photographer came when a friend, who had seen some of her work, asked her to shoot for Mirabella magazine.

"That was the first time that I ever took a professional picture and that job was a portrait of Warren Beatty," said Klein, who continued to shoot for the publication until its close. The last spread of the magazine, a cover of Christy Turlington shot by Klein, was done a week before it folded and wasn’t going to run.

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"British Vogue ended up putting it on their cover," said Klein. "One thing led to another, and I started to really shoot professionally after that."

These days, Klein, who continues to call NYC home, lives a more serene life. "I don’t work as much as I did. You know, I just want to be there for my son as much as I can," she said of her eight-year-old son, whom she had in her early '50s with the help of a surrogate.

The small bookstore began to fill up as friends and fans showed up in support. It was Klein’s last night in Los Angeles. “It’s an exciting time to be here,” she said of the Golden Globes weekend. Next, she has plans to take some time off.

"I’ll regroup and come up with a concept of what the next book will be — I have no idea now," she said. "I’ll just hang out with my son and enjoy every minute of him as much as possible."

Photos courtesy of Kelly Klein/Rizzoli New York