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Styling of legendary stars of the 80s in a new book

If we still remember Dynasty, Knight Rider or Miami Vice at all it is not exactly because of William Faulkner’s narrative technique. What we were first struck by and remember today is the style! One of the people responsible for perpetuating the Olympic pop culture myth of the likes of David Hasselhoff, Linda Evans or the Bee Gees was photographer Mario Casilli, author of some of the brightest portraits – literally – of the 80s.

Armed with his camera, Mario Casilli faced and survived models dominated by paint and shoulder pads, about to be devoured by dazzling sequins or an impossible combination of fabrics and colors. It was an era of luxury that had no understanding of minimalism – as seen in images that are now collected in a book by Reel Art Press. Under Casilli’s eye, Oprah appears like one of the Jackson Brothers and Barbra Streisand wears her underwear.

It wasn’t exactly a strain for Casilli – quite the contrary, considering that he had Key Number Two with access to Playboy clubs spread across the world, just behind owner Hugh Hefner. Before capturing and immortalising America’s stars of TV, Casilli had photographed hundreds of bunnies for the magazine. Among his professional accomplishments was inventing, or at least popularizing, bodypainting females to break the monotony of so much bare skin in Hefner’s publication.

Change Playboy for TV Guide, then change naked for the tackiest clothing possible, but Casilli’s images don’t lose one iota of sexual eloquence, which always translates into money. He became Francisco de Goya: official author of ruling royal portraits in the entertainment industry. Being on one of his covers was guaranteed to shift sales or increase audience figures. But for some its worth was not merely commercial: “I don’t think any photographer today has managed to capture a decade in the way that Mario captured the absolute glamour and essence in his 1980s photographs” recalls Joan Collins as the deserved author of the foreword and star of the book’s cover.

Huffington Post Spain

11 Nov, 2013

Hector Llanos