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I have the pleasure to meet Otto Drögsler during a lunch with Joachim Schirrmacher, director of the German Fashion Industry Foundation SDBI in Munich. We were both invited to be part of the jury for the European Fashion Award. Otto is an authetic, kind man, precise, full of palpable experience and refreshingly young at heart. He knew that he wanted to be a fashion designer from an early age on and his parents, not opposing his decision at all, only said that he unfortunately will be on his own, since they couldn’t help him with any expertise, knowledge or network in this area. And so Otto did. He became one of the best students of the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and studied under Jil Sander and Karl Lagerfeld, who thought him to emphasize the back of a dress, because “one must gaze after a woman when she leaves the room”.

Otto Drögsler was born on October 13th, 1957, in Vienna, Austria. He studied fashion design at the Hochschule für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna under supervision of Jil Sander and Karl Lagerfeld. He was one of the best students of his class and won a scholarship with Dietmar Sterling in Paris in 1982. He was hired on the spot, when he showed his portfolio to a German manufacturer of suits. He has since then worked for brands such as Chloé, Escada, Toni Gard and lastly eleven years for René Lezard before founding, together with his partner, their own label “ODEEH” in 2009. He is considered now one of the best designer in Germany.

Otto Drögsler lives with his partner Jörg Ehrlich in Giebelstadt, Germany.
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About The Essence by Franco Tettamanti
About «The Essence»
Hands, handwriting and thoughts on only one question: «WHAT MAKES YOU CREATIVE?»

In 2003, I developed my concept to portray creative people by opposing their hands to their handwriting. More precisely by contrasting a photograph of their hands with a manuscript, which they themselves wrote on the subject of creativity. Some of this work has been published in an award-winning photobook called «ESSENCE».
All rights reserved. No dissemination without written permission. Copyright © Franco P Tettamanti Pictures.
All portraits Art Design Fashion Music Economy Politics
David Foster by Franco Tettamanti
It is a sunny day in Santa Monica, as I wait in the office of music uber-producer David Foster. It is of moderate size, but big enough to host a beautiful grand piano. The walls display some of the award-winnings records he was involved in and I try to imagine the endless creative orgasms he has lived through. David enters the room, wearing a black sweater and blazer with zippers. He is ready to get started and I go right ahead with photographing his hands while he plays the piano. I ask him if I could take his portrait and he sits on the floor, just beside the window and looks straight into camera, without any fear, but with complete dedication and concentration. David only gave me five minutes for the whole shoot, but he gave them to me with 100%.

David Foster was born on November 1st, 1949 in Victoria, British Columbia, the son of Maurice Foster, a maintenance yard superintendent, and Eleanor May Vantreight, a homemaker. He began experimenting with the piano at the age of five and enrolled 1963, at the age of 13, in the University of Washington music program.

Foster’s professional career started in 1971, when he became a keyboardist for Eirik Wangberg’s band Skylark. Foster’s impressive keyboard skills were noticed by many and helped him record with extremely popular artists such as John Lennon and Rod Stewart. In 1973, Foster shot to prominence when his band’s single “Wildflower” edged out a place in the Top Ten Ratings.

David Foster is a musical genius and his biography is just too long to recite here. He has been a producer for musicians including Chaka Khan, Alice Cooper, Christina Aguilera, Andrea Bocelli, Toni Braxton, Michael Bublé, Chicago, Natalie Cole, Celine Dion, Kenny G, Josh Groban, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Lopez, Kenny Rogers, Seal, Rod Stewart, Donna Summer, Madonna, Mary J. Blige, Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand and many more. In his phenomenal career, he amassed sixteen Grammy Awards amidst forty-seven nominations. He also has a Hollywood Walk of Fame star near the Capitol Records Building.

David Foster has been married four times, has five biological daughters and seven grandchildren and lives in Los Angeles.
Christian Liaigre by Franco Tettamanti
It is a beautiful fall afternoon as I walk through a big wooden door into a charming courtyard in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, not far from the river Seine. As I ring the only bell on the front door, a small dog squeezes through the opening door to greet me joyfully. As I lift my head, I see Mr. Liaigre in a crisp white shirt, smiling at me and asking me inside. I have been to his house a few years ago for a portrait session for the magazine “Madame Figaro” and it seems to me that only small things have changed. The rooms have a holistic presence and Mr. Liaigre has the invaluable ability to make you feel everything he does as an interior designer without speaking a word. The photo of his hands is taken with a painting of his own as a backdrop. As we say good-bye, we both agree that ultimately in a creative process only one-thing matters: Beauty.

Christian Liaigre, son of a veterinarian, was born in 1943 in the Vendée region of France. Christian grew up on his parent’s farm where they bred horses, a detail that has had a substantial influence in his work. At the age of 17, he attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he met Alberto Giacometti who introduced him to the works of Brancusi. By the early 60’s he returned to Vendée where he worked on his parent’s farm – perhaps re-opening his eyes to the beauty of country living. In the early 1970’s, Liaigre returned to Paris where he worked as a design director at Nobilis Fontan. Eventually, he left Nobilis, as they would not allow him to show his own furniture, and opened his own Parisian design studio in 1985.

Twenty-seven years and an impressive client-list later, Christian Liaigre is one of today’s most sought after designers. A master of luxury interiors, his works include The Mercer hotel in New York, many high profile homes, a gorgeous furniture line, and even a few yachts. The boy, who once tended horses on that small farm in Vendée, is now a man of great influence and inspiration in the world of design.

Christian Liaigre was married, has one son and lives in Paris.
Farida Khelfa by Franco Tettamanti
I await Farida in my studio where I prepared everything to photograph her hands. She arrives on time with her impeccable looks. Her fresh energy fills the room and I instantly feel all her qualities as a muse. She is not afraid, ready to trust, to inspire, to try, to engage and get things done. I am immensely happy that she agreed so effortlessly to be part of my series and there is no doubt in my mind that she is not a creative person, although she has a slightly more modest opinion about herself. Farida rules and anyone who is lucky enough to meet her will be enchanted.

Born in Vénissieux to Algerian parents, Farida Khelfa grew up in the Lyon suburbs surrounded by eight brothers and sisters. Aspiring to a different kind of life, she ran away to Paris at the age of 16. In the capital, she made several encounters. Christian Louboutin became her best friend. Together, they went out at night to party at the famous Palace.

Her personality, her allure, her silhouette and her beauty, far removed from the aesthetics of her era, defined her as a young woman whom nobody could ignore. In 1979, Jean Paul Gaultier noticed her and asked her to partake in his fashion show. This first catwalk experience jump-started her modeling career. After that, she was often present on the podiums of the most talented designers of that generation: Jean-Paul Gaultier, Azzedine Alaïa, Thierry Mugler… She incarnated a spirit and a look that hinted rebel while also encapsulating the desire for diversity that was the rage of that era.

Meanwhile she worked at the Bains-Douches, where she met photographer Jean-Paul Goude who considered her his muse. The photographs they produced together quickly became legendary. Inspired by all these experiences, Farida involved herself in the cinema as early as 1985. Her career as an actress and a model ended in 1995 when she decided to join Azzedine Alaïa’s design studio. In 2002, she became the head of Jean Paul Gaultier’s Haute Couture salons.

In 2004, Farida became once again independent. She went back to the world of cinema. She was filmed by Alain Robbe-Grillet, Julian Schnabel, Cédric Klapisch and Catherine Breillat… As with fashion, where she worked first as a model, then with designers, in 2010 she switched from actress to film direction. Her first documentary showcased the success story of Jean Paul Gaultier. Others followed, featuring subjects as divergent as the artistic youth of Tunisia before the revolution or the French presidential campaign of 2012. In May 2012, Farida Khelfa became the House of Schiaparelli’s ambassador.

Farida is married to French businessman Henry Seydoux, has two sons and lives in Paris.
Thomas Steinbruck by Franco Tettamanti
I fly to Berlin to be part of a mentoring program for fashion school graduates in connection with the European Fashion Award. Assigned together with Thomas to a group of students, I discover his fresh and sincere energy, his warmth and sense of tact – and his little energetic nod, when he talks. I had the opportunity to meet him again several times since then and I recall two things he said. His first mantra is to give consumers products they never knew they wanted. His second mantra concerns his own well-being. A simple phrase that still implies a lot of self-responsibility towards your own happiness: Don’t be a victim.

Raised as a child in the Swiss Alps, Steinbrück relocated to Paris to pursue schooling in fashion and design. He graduated from the prestigious fashion school “Studio Bercot” and earned a Master’s from the world-renowned “Ecole De La Chambre Syndicale De La Couture Parisienne” in Paris. Following graduation, he immediately began working as the assistant designer to the late Gianfranco Ferré for the house of “Christian Dior”. In the mid Nineties, Thomas Steinbrück relocated from Paris to New York and worked with Geoffrey Beene and his collaborator Albert Elbaz.

In 1998, Thomas created his own fashion label. As a winner of the Fall 2000 Moët & Chandon Designer Debut Award, Steinbrück gained an international reputation. The “Thomas Steinbruck” line was sold in over 50 doors worldwide including such prestigious retailers as Bergdorf Goodman, Nordstrom’s and Saks 5th Avenue. In 2001, the German Car Manufacturer BMW signed him exclusively as their Fashion and Style Consultant.

In 2002, Thomas Steinbrück became a faculty member and the Chair of Fashion, Merchandising, Textiles and Design at Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania as well as an Assistant Professor for Fashion Design at Parsons School of Design in New York. He was the teacher and mentor to such emerging talents like Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough (Proenza Schouler) and Alexander Wang to name a few.

In 2005, he launched the new “Kenneth Cole New York” collection and created a new brand identity for the men’s and women’s division. In 2008, Thomas Steinbrück relocated to Paris to become the Vice President of Collections for the prestigious Couture House of “Elie Saab”. In 2011, Thomas Steinbrück became the Creative Director for the “Porsche Design Group”. “Reebok” appointed him creative director in October 2016, tasking him with leading the brand into uncharted territory.

Thomas currently lives in Boston, MA.
Melody Gardot by Franco Tettamanti
I am portraying different artists for “Universal Music France” and Melody Gardot is supposed to be one of them. On the day of the shooting, the release coordinator calls and tells me that Melody does not want to be photographed. Period! Instead of sitting around, I decide to go to the recording studio and meet with Melody, whom I have never met before. After being introduced to each other, I show her one of my recent portraits of Gregory Porter. She likes it so much that she wants to take pictures at once. However, since the label called the shooting off, there is no equipment and assistant ready. Fortunately, we could reschedule and meet again a few days later for a tiny 15minutes that will mark the beginning of a wonderful friendship.

Melody Gardot was born in New Jersey and was brought up by her grandparents. Her grandmother was a Polish immigrant. Her mother, a photographer, travelled often, so they had few possessions and lived out of suitcases. Melody started music lessons at the age of nine and began playing piano in Philadelphia bars at the age of sixteen. In 2003, she was injured in a bicycle accident and was confined to a hospital bed for a year. During her recovery, she learned how to play the guitar and started writing songs, which were made available on iTunes as "The Bedroom Sessions". She began playing these songs at venues in Philadelphia and was noticed by employees of the radio station WXPN, which helped to start the career of Norah Jones. She was encouraged to send a demo tape to the radio station, which ultimately found its way to the Universal Music Group. She released her first album “Worrisome Heart” in 2008 and her second "My One And Only Thrill" in 2009, which brought her her first Grammy nomination.
Carla Del Ponte by Franco Tettamanti
I am on a day-trip to the Netherlands to meet with the ‘Iron Lady of The Hague’. The security measures at the International Criminal Tribunal are impressive. An assistant leads me to the office of Carla Del Ponte, where she is sitting behind a pile of files. “What do you want?” she asks. “Well, I want to photograph your hands”. ”Then let’s do it!” After I took a picture while she holds a report on Slobodan Milosevic, I ask her if I can take her portrait. She sits down and says, “Serious! I have to look serious!” And I say, “Yes, you are such a serious person.” And she laughs. With great heart.

Carla Del Ponte was born in 1947 in Ticino, Switzerland. She studied law and obtained her LL.M. in 1972. In 1981, Del Ponte was appointed an investigating magistrate, and later public prosecutor at the Lugano district attorney's office. As public prosecutor, she dealt with cases of money laundering, fraud, drug trafficking, arms smuggling, terrorism and espionage and became well known in Europe, for instance for breaking a Sicilian Mafia money-laundering operation in Switzerland. Since then, her personal image of the tough, incongruous and non-conformist woman who does not succumb to any kind of pressure was forged. 1999, she was appointed prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and was arguably regarded as the most famous Prosecutor ever to attain this position. She resigned from the ICT in 2008 to serve as Switzerland’s Ambassador to Argentina until 2011, when she retired.

Carla Del Ponte was married and has one son.
David Zinman by Franco Tettamanti
A special permission lets me attend a rehearsal of the Tonhalle Orchester in Zurich. The typical sounds of an orchestra warming up suddenly fall silent as David Zinman enters the stage. Everyone listens attentively to his introductory words and corrections, before they all together bring to life the symphonic poem Op. 5 ‘Pelleas und Melisande’ by Arnold Schoenberg.

David Zinman was born in 1936 in New York City. After early violin studies at the Oberlin Conservatory, Zinman studied theory and composition at the University of Minnesota. He started out 1961 as an assistant, then second and finally principal conductor at various orchestras in the US and Europe.

Zinman became music director of the Tonhalle Orchester Zurich in 1995. His innovative programming with that orchestra included a series of late-night concerts, "Tonhalle Late", which combined classical music and a nightclub setting. He conducted the Tonhalle Orchestra in its first-ever appearance at “The Proms” (Royal Albert Hall, London) in 2003. He concluded his Tonhalle music directorship in 2014.

Zinman continues to conduct the renowned American orchestras of Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco and New York. In Europe, he regularly performs with the Berliner Philharmoniker, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic and others. His latest award was the ECHO Klassik for ‘Conductor of the Year’, received in 2015. He and his wife reside in New Jersey, United States, and Zurich.
Adrian Frutiger by Franco Tettamanti
I pay Adrian Frutiger a visit at his home close to Bern in Switzerland. I am amazed about his activity and enthusiasm for new projects and ideas. He shows me his atelier where he still works the old-school way, with pencil and paper.

Adrian Frutiger was born 1928 in Unterseen, Bern, the son of a weaver. Showing a clear interest in art in his early life, he was encouraged by his father and teachers to pursue an apprenticeship rather than pure art. At the age of sixteen, he was apprenticed for four years as a compositor at the Otto Schlaefli printing house in Interlaken.

Frutiger became one of the most famous typeface designer and influenced the direction of type design in the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st. Frutiger's most famous designs, Univers, Frutiger and Avenir, are landmark sans-serif families spanning the three main genres of sans-serif typefaces: neogrotesque, humanist and geometric. Univers was notable for being one of the first sans-serif faces to form a consistent but wide-ranging family, across a range of widths and weights. Frutiger described creating sans-serif types as his "main life's work," partially due to the difficulty in designing them compared to serif fonts.

Frutiger married Paulette Flückiger in 1952, who died in 1954 after the birth of their son Stéphane. He remarried the theologian Simone Bickel in 1955. They had two daughters, who both experienced mental health problems and committed suicide as adolescents. Disappointed by the standard of mental health care at the time, Frutiger and his wife founded the ‘Fondation Adrian et Simone Frutiger’ to fund psychology and neuroscience research and developments in mental health support.

Frutiger spent most of his professional career working in Paris and living in France, returning to Switzerland later in life. He died on September 10, 2015 at the age of 87 in Switzerland.
HR Giger by Franco Tettamanti