NIcki Minaj Transformed by Francesco Vezzoli for W Magazine
BIESENBACH: You have a history of collaborating with celebrities. What interested you in working on a project with Nicki Minaj?
VEZZOLI: I wanted to play with the public image of a female hip-hop star. During my entire career, I have always been fascinated by powerful women in history. I have spent a lot of time researching the ways they were represented in art and how their images were used to mold the public imagination—and to convey aesthetic and philosophical ideas about beauty and sexual desire. My main interest has been to link the historical artistic approach to female representation to contemporary icons of the media era.
In my most recent works, for example, I transformed Princess Caroline of Hanover into a Garbo-esque Queen Christina, I asked actress Eva Mendes to become three symbols of classical sculpture (Venus, Saint Teresa, and Paolina Borghese), and I framed Lady Gaga into a de Chirico–inspired robotic extravaganza. For W, I wanted to turn the lovely Nicki Minaj into a powdered 18th-century courtesan.