I have seen such beauty as one man has seldom seen,” wrote the English eccentric, poet, and surrealist collector Edward James as he gazed into the heart of Las Pozas, the fantastical jungle paradise he built in Xilitla, Mexico. Hoping to embrace that liberated realm of the imagination and unconscious so familiar to James, the photographer Tim Walker and the actress Tilda Swinton created a series of phantasmagorias inspired by artists Salvador Dalí, Giorgio de Chirico, Remedios Varo, Leonora Carrington, and other James muses and collaborators. In an homage to a photograph Man Ray took of James, Swinton wears a pair of leather typist’s gloves made for her by her friend Olivier Saillard, the director of the Musée Galliera, in Paris. “He printed the letters of the keys of a typewriter on them,” says Swinton, “which is particularly meaningful to me, who refused to take a typing course, in favor of a path to art school.” Like James and his circle, the unconventional Swinton has always subscribed to her own mutable notions of beauty. “Being beautiful was never really something I associated with people I knew—certainly not girls,” she says. “Boys, maybe. Horses, yes, and certainly my great-grandmother Elsie Swinton, whose imperial grandeur was like a watermark.” A drawing of Elsie, by John Singer Sargent, once hung in Tilda’s family’s sitting room, just above the television. “I saw her looking out of the corner of her eye, straight at me, during my teenage years—a knowing, engaging, and infinitely amused attitude,” Swinton recalls. “She was dark and luscious, unlike the rest of us, who are sandy and pale. Not looking like her felt, somehow, like being born on the wrong side of the beauty tracks.” Perhaps it depends upon who is doing the looking. In Walker’s dreamscapes, Swinton is the enigmatic beauty—perfectly at home in James’s madcap universe.
Photos: Stranger than Paradise
Giorgio Armani blouse, skirt, and pants; Haider Ackermann dress; Ann Demeulemeester top; Cornelia James gloves; Prada gaiters and socks.
Rick Owens jacket and dress.
Francesco Scognamiglio dress.
Beauty note: Worship the sun safely with Amorepacific Color Control Cushion Compact SPF 50 in 104.
Louis Vuitton dress and shoes; Cornelia James gloves; Emilio Cavallini tights.
Haider Ackermann shirt and trousers.
Mary Katrantzou dress; Cornelia James gloves.
Ann Demeulemeester dress; Cornelia James gloves.
Beauty note: Slick down strands with Privé Vanishing Oil.
Balmain jacket; Max Mara jacket; Swinton’s own Olivier Saillard gloves.
Rochas dress; National Theatre Costume Hire underskirt; Cornelia James gloves; Céline pumps.
Acne Studios gown.
Beauty note: Be the object of complexion envy with Chanel Sublimage le Fluide.
Angels the Costumiers cape; Gucci gown; Vicki Beamon mask; Cornelia James gloves.
Maison Martin Margiela dress and gloves.
Beauty note: Pamper overworked hair with Clear Scalp & Hair Damage & Color Repair 7 Day Intensive Treatment Tubes.
Vera Wang Collection dress; Vicki Beamon lips and fingertips; Cornelia James gloves.
Azzedine Alaïa top, skirt, and shoes; Emilio Cavallini bodysuit; Alexander McQueen headpiece.
Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci dress; Cornelia James gloves.
Hair by Julien d’Ys. Makeup by Stephan Marais. Art direction and concept by Jerry Stafford. Set design by Rhea Thierstein. Produced by Jeff Delich at Prodn at Art + Commerce and El Taco Productions. Printed by Graeme Bulcraig at Touch. Special thanks to Gabriela Gastelum at El Castillo. Photography assistant: Emma Dalzell. Fashion assistants: Clémence Lobert, Mollie Maguire.
Tilda Swinton on W‘s May 2013 cover.
Hair by Julien d’Ys for Julien d’Ys; makeup by Stephane Marais at L’Atelier NYC. Fashion: Céline jacket, top, and pants; Cornelia James gloves. Beauty: Chanel Perfection Lumière Flawless Fluid Makeup in Beige Rosé; Natural Finish Loose Powder in Translucent 1; Powder Blush in In Love; Rouge Coco Shine in Candeur. Photography by Tim Walker Styled by Jacob K May 2013
Hair by Julien d’Ys. Makeup by Stephan Marais.