early fashion photo of Andie MacDowell walking with smile

Andie MacDowell, New York City 1978

Andie MacDowell, credits Steve Landis with giving her the encouragement early on in her modeling career, to stick it out in New York.  Landis met her during her first week in the city and saw her star potential immediately. This photo was taken during that time. “Andie was the most amazing girl I'd ever met.” 

See more beauty photos of Andie.

A year or two later I introduced her to the legendary TV commercial director, Tully Rector in late 1981, for the female lead in the film 'Hotel Versailles' he was preparing for production.“  The film never was made, and it would still be another couple of years or so before she would become famous for her Calvin Klein commercials, which predated her film acting career.  An interesting aside, Tully Rector’s daughter Kelly later married designer Calvin Klein.   Small world.

Shortly after this photo was taken, the ELITE agency sent Andie off to Paris where she would establish the beginnings of what would become a fabulously successful modeling career.  She eventually came back to the US, and rose up the ranks quickly here as well. Soon she become a favorite of American Vogue photographers’ Arthur Elgort, Richard Avedon, Denis Peil, among others.  “As beautiful as these photographers made her look, I have long held the theory that most still photographs couldn't do justice to Andie’s beauty.  One photo just can‘t capture her complexities.   On motion picture film, as in life, her inner beauty comes through much more clearly,” remarks Landis.

In fact the first time most of America noticed her was in a series of commercials for Calvin Klein Jeans consisting of different vignettes, (in the follow up a to the ‘Nothing comes between me and my Calvin's’ that Brooke Shields originated a few years earlier)  all directed by Richard Avedon.  During Andie‘s audition, Richard Avedon just asked her to relate some stories from her days growing up in the American south.  He made audio tapes of the stories, as he did with the other girls auditioning as well.  Several other girls commercials aired also, but Andie’s were the biggest hits. She had several different spots that aired frequently.

In that campaign Andie was photographed on a white seamless background, telling a short story about her and some local boys.  She just sucked you in with her voice, her accent, her charm, letting you in on a little private episode from her life.  Nothing to do with the jeans she was wearing.  It was the brilliance of Avedon and Klein to just let her go, to let her be herself.  They deserve a lot of credit for such a ground breaking, (at the time), campaign.  The commercials created a buzz, people remarking ‘I don’t understand what that has to do with jeans.’  But those ads were magic.  People were talking.  That was the point.

“I remember we had dinner one night, in London that year.  I was in town shooting an editorial for British Vogue.  She was there shooting her first movie role, ‘Greystoke, the Legend of Tarzan’ with director Hugh Hudson.  They'd rented her a lovely apartment on Eaton Square for the duration of the filming. She told me that years earlier, a famous actress had lived in the same apartment. I can't remember who.  (Hudson had originally seen Andie in the pages of British Vogue and asked that magazines pre-eminent fashion editor, Grace Coddington about her.  Grace had worked with her many times, giving her a good report and helped  Hudson track her down.  She was chosen for the female lead.)   We had great fun reminiscing.  She'd just shot the Calvin Klein commercials but they hadn't aired yet.  She recited some of the stories during dinner.  It was a fun evening.  In this business you meet lots of people,   Then, just like that, work and circumstances place you in different parts of the world. Sometimes you don't see friends for years.  So when you cross paths with an old friend, far from home, its a real blessing. 

About the photographer . .
Steve Landis has travelled through many parts of the world during a career in professional photography incorporating the areas of photojournalism, fashion, beauty, and celebrity portrait photography for major publications for over 25 years.  Steve has turned his life over to Yeshua the Messiah, (Jesus the Christ) and now primarily photographs weddings, family, actor, and executive portraits.

"I have been greatly blessed during my life and give the glory and thanks to Yeshua for a renewed life of peace and joy," states Landis. 





All photographs and other content contained herein is owned by and Copyright 1975-2003 by Steve Landis.This web page Copyright 2003 by Steve Landis.  All other rights are reserved.

To contact Steve Landis please e-mail: For work related inquiries please write "Photo Work" in the Subject heading.All photographs ©stevelandis 1975—2003. All other rights reserved.