Huggy Ragnarsson Interview

by Ruth Doherty

Huggy Ragnarsson

Icelandic former supermodel Huggy Ragnarsson once shared the catwalk with stars like Linda Evangelista. Now an internationally-recognised photographer, she's shot some of fashion's most famous faces for top magazines, including Marie Claire. The straight-talking star is currently enjoying a stint as a judge on the 4th series of Living TV's Britain's Next Top Model.



You’ve worked with a host of celebrities from Claudia Schiffer to Heidi Klum. Who was your favourite?



They’re all my favourites and they all bring something special to the shoot (especially when you consider their hectic schedule). Claudia is exceptionally professional and has a great sense of humour; Linda Evangelista exhales an image in a way I have never seen before, plus she loves to have a giggle; Heidi is down to earth and warm-hearted. But they’re all truly giving beauties…



Ever come across any ‘problem’ celebrities?



Yes, I have worked with ‘divas’ and they know who they are – one can only hope they’re having a bad day, week, month, year and that they're in need of a much-deserved rest!



What about Naomi Campbell? Any signs of the notorious temper?



My first job with Naomi was for the British Red Cross to aid relief for the children of Somalia. Naomi arrived on time and duly wore the jewellery donated for the auction, which ran in the papers. I must say, on all my shoots she was professional, but there was an incident - not on a job, mind you - when the word 'temper’ would be a total understatement…



You were once a model yourself. Did you fall prey to drastic dieting?



I was scouted by an agent who was so excited by me, she said I should accompany her straight away to her office. She said I was perfect for their market and that I would work straight away. Well, I thought I was going to be an instant star but, when I arrived a little while later, I was told I was overweight by ten pounds. I was 5’10 and weighed 130 pounds - no different than when she first saw me. She told me not to bother coming back in until I'd lost the weight. Since I was away from home and had very little money, I thought the quickest way to lose weight was to stop eating solids and stuck to a diet of grapefruit juice.



I went for 33 days without eating solids that summer and, as I was walking down the street one day, I ran into the same agent; she said I had never looked better and told me to keep up the good work. I thought to myself: ‘Oh My God, I'll ever be able to eat again.’ This was in 1983 when anorexia was not commonly talked about. But I had read a story about the singer Karen Carpenter (who died from the disease), which said that tell-tale signs included your body turning blue when you come out of the shower. Mine did. I realised that not eating wasn’t the answer, so I started eating healthily and realised I had the power to change my life for the better.





Who, in your opinion, is the best model of the moment ?



Kate Moss. She has a depth of sexiness which you don’t see everyday - and she has great style. Fashion changes, but style is timeless.



Which celebrity would you most like to turn your lens on?



I would have loved to have shot Audrey Hepburn but, modern-day, I would have to say Nelson Mandela and Oprah Winfrey. They’re both elegant survivors, who radiate light and are makers of their own destiny – a true inspiration!



What's the most embarrassing thing that's happened on a shoot?



A contributing editor of a magazine for whom I was shooting didn’t recognise Heidi Klum when she first walked into the studio – she thought Heidi was delivering jewellery from the company that she was actually designing with. I don’t think the mistaken identity was because Heidi was wearing no make-up and looked different (the girl is beautiful without, believe me). I think it was because Heidi was so normal and down to earth. We joked about it a few times – I hinted that I loved her jewellery range, especially the dazzling diamond items, and said she could deliver to my hotel any time. She gave me a sparkling smile, but no glittering jewellery yet!



You’ve shot David Beckham. What were your impressions of him?



David is one of the most gracious, well-mannered young men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. You can feel he has a good heart. I introduced him to my two assistants and, when the shoot was over, not only did he remember their names, but he thanked each of them for their hard work and for coming out to Heathrow for the shoot .



What do you think of Victoria’s move from pop star to fashion designer? Would you wear her jeans?



I’m not sure about her being a 'fashion designer' per se. I do, however, like her jeans, even though I couldn’t wear them myself. I don’t have a boyish figure – I am a woman with hips!

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