“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.

Did you see? Photographer Richard Ballarian remembers the first picture he ever took, an afternoon in the New York City studio of Boscar Project artists Ward Stegerhoek & Vicky Steckel.