Elle photographer Gilles Bensimon’s work on display at Sofitel

As the international creative director of Elle magazine for 40 years, fashion photographer Gilles Bensimon had the opportunity to shoot the world’s most beautiful women. From supermodels to screen icons, many of his subjects reached icon status in fashion and pop culture. A newly opened photography exhibition celebrating women showcases a selection of his most captivating work for the magazine, where he was creative director and head photographer until 2009.

On display to the public throughout the Sofitel Hotel Los Angeles’ lobby and Riviera 31 Bar, the 25 portraits in “Elles by Gilles Bensimon” have been mounted here after traveling throughout the country, with prior displays in New York, Washington and Chicago. The Los Angeles exhibition is slated to be on view at the Sofitel through Jan. 31.

The women were photographed over the last few decades. They include Catherine Deneuve lounging in an opulent hotel room in 1995 and Kate Winslet staring intensely into a dressing room mirror in 2012.

Besides the stunning nature of each of Bensimon’s subjects, fashion comes into play. Charlize Theron wears an off-shoulder ball gown and lace mask in her 2001 portrait, and a 1999 image shows a flawless Jennifer Lopez squatting in a matte black, backless floor-length dress, looking almost like a chiseled sculpture.


“A piece of clothing tells a story allowing the subject to be whoever they’d like to be,” says Bensimon, who collaborated with the Sofitel to curate the exhibition and explains that he specifically gravitated toward the images of actresses and singers because of his love of and fascination with Los Angeles.

With such huge talent posing for Bensimon’s lens, there was bound to be some compelling on-set stories.

For instance, he was able to capture a usually poised Lopez letting go in a fit of laughter and a goddess-like Theron shedding a single tear after, he says, he simply “asked her to cry.”

But it’s a picture of a perky and elegant Audrey Hepburn, taken when she was about 50, that stands out to Bensimon. It was one of the few photo shoots the actress was doing then, so he felt lucky to get the time with her.

“Other than the photo of Hepburn, my favorite photo is the one I am going to take next,” Bensimon says.