Stars Flock to Opening of Helmut Newton Exhibition at Annenberg Space for Photography

Rashida Jones Cindy Crawford  Helmut Newton opening - P 2013
Mike Windle/Getty Images for Annenberg Space For Photography

Rashida Jones Cindy Crawford  Helmut Newton opening - P 2013

Rashida Jones, Cindy Crawford, Daryl Hannah and more celebrate the late, great fashion photographer, known for his empowering and provocative images of nearly nude women.

A new exhibition of work by fashion photography icon Helmut Newton kicked off in style Thursday night.

The opening for the Annenberg Space for Photography's Helmut Newton: White Women • Sleepless Nights • Big Nudes, was attended by celebrities such as Rashida Jones, Cindy Crawford, Mandy Moore, Rosanna Arquette, Minka Kelly, Bella Heathcote, Bob Evans (an icon himself), Daryl Hannah  and China Chow.

Art world celebrities also came out, such as The Museum of Contemporary Art's Jeffrey Deitch, Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Michael Govan and wife Katharine Ross, and photographers Matthew Rolston and Lauren Greenfield. They were greeted upon arriving with a big tent for cocktails that contained two chandeliers facing out to Century City's skyscrapers. The scene was a sea of black clothes, black glasses and high heels. Newton himself would have approved.

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As people strolled by the intensely erotic images -- some of them of unlikely models like 1970s and '80s body builder Lisa Lyon -- one of things being uttered was "wow -- no fake boobs! Those boobs are real." Newton brought the womanliness out in every woman he shot, but he also brought out their toughness, their strength, their inner dominatrixes. To wit, almost every photo used garters and garter stockings.

A photo of Charlotte Rampling -- who's appearing on Showtime's Dexter in its last season as a forensic shrink -- was free of fetish-wear (unlike her famed Night Porter image) -- but still made a provocative nude. That was shot in 1973.

Several Newton docs were also shown in the midst of the exhibit, and some of the evening's attendees were also  participants: Cindy Crawford and Daryl Hannah were shot by Newton at the height of their fame and show up in one film;  Paloma Picasso and Elsa Peretti also make appearances.

Famed L.A. photo gallerist David Fahey -- who was on hand -- also speaks in one of the films, crediting Helmut Newton for allowing fashion photographs to veer off of traditional fashion pictures.

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"He didn't make fashion photographs that looked like they belonged in fashion magazines," said Fahey. "He made them art."

One great line in the film: a woman auditions to be shot by Newton. After meeting her, he told her, "You're a nice girl. I'm not looking for nice girls." Maybe that's why in his day, Time magazine dubbed him "The King of Kink." In the film, Bob Evans laughs and says, "Helmut procured more women for me than anyone I've ever known. Every actress was dying to be photographed by him."

Heathcote and Jones were both wearing pieces by Kelly Wearstler.