For her latest project, the coffee-table book “Heimat,” to be published by Taschen on April 1, Ellen von Unwerth mined her German roots. Described as “an enchanted tour around Bavaria,” the 454-page tome features a cadre of curvy, creamy-skinned models spilling out of their dirndls as they frolic through the storybook-like countryside.
Shot in von Unwerth’s cheeky, sensual style, it’s a visual delight that is also personal. The title refers to the German term describing a person’s relationship to a physical and social place. “It’s like going back in time,” she said. “I lived in Bavaria from about age 10 to 16 and when I went back, it was incredible to see all these people who still dress in dirndls and lederhosen. I thought it would be fun to do a book in my way.”
Her way parodies the clichés — Bavarians as cow-milking, pretzel-munching jolly folk — as it loosely follows the four seasons on a farm. In her version, the girls did most of the manual labor as well as the cooking, while local men are mostly props.
“The weather didn’t always cooperate, but I always go with the flow — that’s part of the fun,” she said. Von Unwerth cast models with a bit of a mischievous streak, those “who have a bit of actor in them,” and ample curves.
The wardrobe, styled by former German Vogue staffer Susanne Kölmel, consisted mostly of vintage and new dirndls by Bavarian designers, in particular Munich-based designer Lola Paltinger. The art editions of the book are also bound in her colorful textiles.
The images will be on exhibit at Taschen’s Los Angeles gallery at 8070 Beverly Boulevard beginning Feb. 25. Of course, there’s a private opening the night before, timed to Oscars weekend.