ZAHIA DEHAR BY PIERRE ET GILLES

From V Magazine’s September 2011 issue, V73 The Heroes Issue

Parisian artists Pierre et Gilles have created their own visual universe surrounding vital and human themes like sex, death, youth, war, eternity, and martyrdom—and that’s just for starters. Immortalizing everyone from porn stars to pop legends in florid deifications—achieved by hand-painting over immaculately staged photographs—the artists and longtime lovers take pleasure in making images that both transcend the mortal landscape and point ouf the contradiction between mortality and mythic idolatry. If not for Zahia Dehar, they might never have met their match.

“We complement each other perfectly,” the artists say of Dehar, the 19-year-old French bombshell, initially brought to the pages of V last March, courtesy of fashion editor Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele. The curvaceous and controversial blonde caused an uproar in Europe in 2009 as the center of a sex scandal involving three members of the French national soccer team. We likened Dehar to a modern-day Mary Magdalene, but Pierre et Gilles saw her as another biblical female, as shown above in their portrait Eve. “She is pure and real,” they say. “We feel close to her because we have the same sensitivity. She inspires us, and our work inspires her.”

Dehar agrees. “I knew Pierre et Gilles’ work for a long time before meeting them, but I never thought I would know them personally—and even pose for them one day!” Following the advent of her notoriety, a mutual friend introduced Dehar to the duo, because, says Dehar, “they thought we would get along well. Fifteen minutes later, we were talking about shooting a photo together! Pierre and Gilles are like big, provocative kids in their art. Their universe is everything I like. It’s colorful, rich, and very sexy.”

Likewise, Pierre et Gilles looked past the outré eroticism of their muse to find the heroism within. “behind her radiant beauty hides a little bit of sadness that touches us a lot,” they say. “Zahia is an angel descended to earth for our pleasure.”

Eve, 2011
Artwork Pierre et Gilles