“I was born in Port Said, Egypt, and first came to New York City in 1953 with the FONTANA SISTERS, a trio of Italian fashion designers. We left after two months, and I never thought I’d return because my mother wanted me to enroll at The Sorbonne, in Paris.
Instead, I went to Elle, where I was discovered by the photographer Mark Shaw.
He told [Ford Models co-founder] EILEEN FORD about me and, when I came back to New York in 1957, I decided to try and make some money even though I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a model.
I’ve loved to paint since I was five years old; I even kept at it while modeling. All of my works are oil —
I don’t like watercolor and I hate acrylic.
A lot of my pieces are here, and there are thirty more or so [at my house] in the country. I’ve always been inspired by [Pablo] PICASSO and [Coco] CHANEL, who would set canvases or books all around.
When you appreciate art, you can put it any place.”
“As you can see, [Henri] MATISSE is my favorite artist and a great inspiration.
I like the way he did interiors and women.”
“I’ve done a lot of portraits. This is my daughter [at left].
Over there [on the right] is me.”
“My daughter’s husband does work, like painting murals, in Italian churches.
He’s incredibly talented. This is something he made that she gave to me.”
“[Richard] AVEDON was one of my best friends. I worked with him before I was a model, and again when I was an editor at HARPER’S BAZAAR. I love this photo he took of JEAN SHRIMPTON.”
“The painting in front is inspired by MONICA LEWINSKY. And behind it is a portrait of COCO CHANEL. All my art is for sale.”
“The pair of girandoles are from Florence. We always took trips there because my mother-in-law was in the antiques business.”
“I incorporate lemons in a lot of my paintings. Someone once told me that life is like a lemon,
and I just don’t believe that’s true.”
Photography byBramble Trionfo
As told toAnthony Rotunno
Iris Bianchi, who has worked as a model and fashion editor, is an artist based in
New York City.