Annie Leibovitz would like to make one issue very clear upfront: She is not a style photographer. Specified that her new ebook, “Wonderland (Phaidon) is an anthology of trend illustrations or photos shot generally for Vogue, that’s curious.

But due to the fact the e book, which comes on Nov. 17, was built on Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” perhaps it’s not so curious soon after all. As Alice confronts a solid of bewildering people, she asks, “Who in the environment am I?” Leibovitz, via trend, poses the very same question.

“I’ve developed performing do the job in this style,” she explained, “but it didn’t go alongside with my perception about myself and my perform. I appear from a area where I want items to definitely make any difference.”

“Ambivalence and irony are in the e book,” she explained to me afterwards.

As a university student at the San Francisco Artwork Institute, Leibovitz was motivated by the gritty, spontaneous images of Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson. However she admired the fashion work of Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton and Irving Penn, she experienced no motivation to emulate them. “I thought fashion was foolish,” she mentioned.

We met at Studio 525 in Chelsea, where by Hauser & Wirth was holding a 5-day “Wonderland” pop-up clearly show all through Fashion 7 days in September. (The Southampton outpost of the gallery will be displaying some of the similar pictures from Nov. 6 via Dec. 23.)

Four gigantic screens projected a assortment of Leibovitz’s perform, from a pregnant Melania Trump in a gold lamé bikini, to Girl Gaga in Valentino haute couture. Leibovitz, who is 72, was moving gingerly on an aching hip that terribly desires substitution medical procedures, pushing herself the way she did two months previously when she shot puffers, parkas and jackets close to an lively volcano in Iceland.

She was dressed in her common uniform of black pants and matching shirt. That morning she’d asked one of her teenage daughters if she ought to have on a 20-year-outdated tattered blue shirt but was promptly informed, “Wear the black just one.”

“I’m just a creature of ease and comfort,” she reported. “I never imagine anybody is on the lookout at me.”

Leibovitz is 1 of the best portrait photographers in the world, but I’ve lengthy been a lover of her trend images — in a lot of techniques, I believe it is her strongest work. For most individuals, “Wonderland” will be their initial publicity to Leibovitz’s talent in this space.

The 341 pictures in the e-book bear the hallmarks of the Leibovitz fashion — masterly use of color, theatrical staging, artful interplay amongst artificial and natural gentle — but the finest of them dwell up to the book’s title. They are enchanting, wrapped in a visual narrative that showcases her presents as a impressive storyteller.

“When just one normally does a vogue shoot the purpose is to illustrate the outfits,” defined Phyllis Posnick, Vogue’s contributing editor and a frequent Leibovitz collaborator. “Annie ‘dresses’ the picture.”

When I complimented Leibovitz on the book, she replied, “I’ll consider that as considerably as I can throw you. I have been all-around the block too long.”

Fifty years, in actuality, commencing as a photojournalist at Rolling Stone. She captured some of the most defining times of the era, from President Nixon’s ignoble exit from the White House, to a naked John Lennon curled up in a fetal posture all-around Yoko Ono. At Self-importance Reasonable, she grew to become identified for her quirky, conceptual portraits of boldface names, together with a nude, seven-months pregnant Demi Moore.

Then, in 1993, the writer Susan Sontag, Leibovitz’s companion, inspired her to deepen her function by documenting the conflict in Sarajevo. But in 1998, Vogue’s editor in chief, Anna Wintour, now Condé Nast’s international editorial director, approached her about working for the journal. A yr afterwards, she was despatched to Paris in the course of the couture displays to shoot a photo essay with its fashion editor, Grace Coddington. The story highlighted Kate Moss and Sean Combs, then recognised as Puff Daddy.

Leibovitz, who experienced hardly ever attended a style clearly show in advance of, was “in awe,” she said of the artistry on screen. “It was like functionality artwork.” The encounter gave her a greater appreciation of vogue. “But I could never ever be a bona fide manner photographer,” she extra, detailing that she thinks of herself as a “conceptual artist utilizing photography.”

James Danziger, whose gallery represented Leibovitz for more than a 10 years, was the 1st to clearly show her manner photos in 2006. “It’s probably that traditionally these photos, which are fantastic trend pictures, will best stand the examination of time,” he explained. “This is the way it is in photography. Most celebs are overlooked but trend lasts.”

Leibovitz ongoing at Vogue for the following 23 many years, producing a considerable overall body of perform but assumed it was “too soft” for a e book. Then Covid-19 happened, and she discovered herself quarantined with her 3 daughters at her 200-acre farm in Rhinebeck, N. Y. She’s owned the assets for 25 yrs it is where by her significant spouse and children gathers — she’s just one of 6 young children — and in which Sontag generally applied to write.

In lockdown with her daughters for just about a yr, she was grateful for the time jointly. Two of her most fanciful photograph essays in the ebook, “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Wizard of Oz,” ended up shot when her daughters ended up youthful — the oldest is now 20, the twins 16. “At the time I was reading through fairy tales to them, so I was actually dwelling in that environment,” she claimed.

The ebook also reawakened reminiscences of Sontag. Leibovitz reminisced about the time Sontag read “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” to her. “We experienced blankets underneath a tree,” she said. “It was these types of a stunning working day, and Susan experienced these kinds of a excellent voice.”

Leibovitz shot the “Alice” photographs with Coddington in 2003, during Condé Nast’s totally free-expending days, when no just one blinked an eye about sending a crew of 30 to 40 persons to a chateau in northern France. “When you search at every photograph and how substantially time it took, it’s definitely brain-boggling,” Coddington stated.

The images have been centered on John Tenniel’s authentic illustrations in the Carroll e-book, together with a single of Alice squeezed inside of the White Rabbit’s dwelling. The established designer generated a replica, scaling it to the model Natalia Vodianova’s proportions. “The dwelling was really amazing, with a minor desk and chairs,” Coddington said. “But Annie thought the windows have been improper, so the designer experienced to rebuild the full issue.”

Fashion designers were being forged as figures in the book, amongst them John Galliano as the Queen of Hearts, Tom Ford as the White Rabbit and Marc Jacobs as the Caterpillar. Karl Lagerfeld, who had required to be the White Rabbit, appeared as himself.

“I’ve often liked the way Annie brings a sense of narrative or storytelling to her trend photos,” Wintour wrote in an electronic mail. “She has an eye for character, conflict, romance, drama — you constantly really feel anything intriguing is occurring, or about to materialize, or has just occurred.”

In an additional manner essay Leibovitz provides a hilarious parody of famous couture shoots of the past. In 1963, many years in advance of Photoshop, Melvin Sokolsky took versions out of the studio and shot them in a plexiglass bubble about distinct parts of Paris. Leibovitz placed Ben Stiller, reprising his “Zoolander” job, inside of a copy bubble and dangled it from a crane above the Seine. Karen Mulligan, Leibovitz’s longtime studio supervisor, recalled possessing to reassure Stiller’s concerned publicist that if he fell in the river, scuba divers have been on standby.

A passionate researcher who enjoys heritage, Leibovitz is drawn to the narrative essays mainly because they give her one thing to aim on in addition to clothing. In 2007, she traveled to Spain for a story based mostly loosely on Hemingway’s “The Sunlight Also Rises.” Leibovitz had prepared to shoot Penélope Cruz and Cayetano Rivera Ordóñez, the good-grandson of the famous matador who’d motivated the character of the bullfighter in the Hemingway novel.

“The working day before the shoot we read that Cayetano had been gored by a bull and was heading to the medical center,” Mulligan recalled. “Then he suddenly showed up. He’d bandaged his have leg. We had to get him into individuals limited matador trousers and blood kept seeping through.”

Like Ordóñez, Leibovitz looks to prosper on stress. “She tortures herself and all people else,” Coddington said. “But she’s exclusive, and I admire the effort she puts into every single picture.” Some others who’ve labored with her say that her relentless perfectionism can lead to indignant outbursts, but agree that she’s less reactive now.

“I was ruthless in acquiring the photograph,” Leibovitz admitted. “I have not had the most effective conduct.”

“Working with Annie isn’t for the faint of heart,” explained Mary Howard, her set designer of 30 a long time, introducing, “Annie by no means desires to have regrets.”

She also doesn’t want to lose management around an interview. We sat reverse every single other at a extensive table that was piled with research substance — for me and on me. The latter was encased in see-as a result of plastic and, according to Leibovitz, contained an e-mail in which an unnamed individual experienced published “some not extremely good matters.” I was tempted to question, “Like what?” and then identified myself glancing in excess of to see if I could read through it.

Leibovitz stored her notes on her left. I retained my notes on my suitable. We ended up like two legal professionals squaring off ahead of a jury composed of huge digital celebrities bordering us in the gallery. “I do not know if I have the capacity to chat about the work even though it’s flashing like this,” she mentioned.

But talk she did — proper by a lot of of my inquiries. It was the initially interview she’d carried out about the ebook and admitted she was nervous.

Rather she talked about all the fantastic do the job becoming carried out in photojournalism, and how she doesn’t fully grasp why just about every sort of pictures isn’t embraced. “Isn’t it?” I asked. She replied, “Well, if something’s not actual enough….” Before when I’d asked her to outline the that means of the word “wonderland,” she mentioned, “It’s the opposite of genuine — unreal.” As in fashion.

“Maybe it is the friction that helps make the operate so superior,” I instructed.

She paused. “Possibly.”

Leibovitz was far more comfy speaking about the book’s portraits. In 2007, she acquired the initially of 3 commissions from the royal house to photograph Queen Elizabeth II, who was aggravated that she’d had to don the total regalia of the historic Buy of the Garter.

Leibovitz imagined the queen’s tiara did not appear right with the ornate robe, and in a BBC documentary, she’s listened to expressing, “Could we try out devoid of the crown? It will seem superior, a lot less dressy.” The queen states, “Significantly less dressy? What do you consider this is?” But she in the end taken out the tiara.

The pics of Caitlyn Jenner for Vanity Reasonable signify manner at its most transformative. The former Olympic decathlon gold medalist sported a variety of outfits, which includes a gold corset and a black Zac Posen costume. “We weren’t attempting to do journalism,” she described. “It was a development, an obtained search. We have been there to assistance her as she became a lady.”

When functioning for Vogue Leibovitz has to remind herself that even portraits require a style aspect. “I attempt to downplay it as much as I can,” she stated. “I’m fully on the subject’s side. From time to time Vogue will assistance with the garments, but Michelle Obama was adamant about sporting her individual. ”

When Leibovitz went to photograph Senator Tammy Duckworth, the senator had by now selected her outfit: a St. John Knits suit that she’d purchased on eBay. “She spelled out that she got all her suits off eBay,” Leibovitz claimed. “I explained to her, “C’mon, let’s do it. I love that I get to have individuals little times.”

Leibovitz had hassle obtaining the fantastic ending for the book, finally choosing a photograph from Alexander McQueen’s final assortment in 2010. The excellent 40-yr-aged designer committed suicide that calendar year on the very first working day of New York Style 7 days. “McQueen’s assortment experienced been transported to New York for Grace and me to shoot,” she recalled. “We took it into a large setting up in Brooklyn, and as we lifted the parts out, we imagined, Let’s depart them in the transport containers.”

All through the day, as Coddington and Leibovitz labored in silence, the mild moved slowly throughout the area. At last, it forged a beatific glow on the product standing in the wood crate. Dressed in a coat customized from lacquered gold feathers, she’s like a Renaissance archangel fearsome in her gilded glory.

Leibovitz, the un-trend photographer, captured the perfect vogue minute.

Patricia Morrisroe is the writer of “Mapplethorpe: A Biography” and “The Girl in the Moonlight,” a novel.