German-born photographer Juergen Teller perfected his knack for undermining the visual conventions of fashion and beauty at such British style magazines as i-D, The Face, and Arena. But when he took his 35mm camera to the 1999 Miss World pagent he found a subject truly worthy of his subversive instincts. His closeup snaps of Miss Ireland, Miss Italy, Miss Ecuador, and all the other beauty queens competing against each other—made with harsh on-camera flash that reveals every blemish on the contestants—manage to be at once horrendous, hilarious, and somehow, heartwarming.
The pictures have been collected in Juergen Teller: Tracht ($180; D.A.P., in association with the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York), the second book in a planned trilogy. Printed in a limited edition (each copy is signed and numbered by Teller), it is bound in a linen cover and slipcased. More impressive are the 76 color plates, printed on a glossy paper stock to give the images the feel and appearance of actual photographic prints. Our German-English dictionary defines the word tracht as "costume" or "uniform," and in these photos Teller shows just how ill-fitting the costume of glamour can be when seen under the right (or wrong) light.