Australian fashion photographer, Anthony Horth, peers his lens beyond the glitz and glamour of Emirates Palace Hotel to reveal a narrative steeped in tradition as ancient as the sands of the Middle East, discovers Elizabeth Totten.
Over his 35-year career, Australian fashion and landscape photographer Anthony Horth has shot a bevy of famous beauties, including Christy Turlington, Eva Herzigová and now First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump.
To say he is used to capturing legendary beauty is an understatement, but even Horth can, at times, be overcome by the beauty of a place.
“Emirates Palace Hotel’s attention to detail in every small area is mesmerising,
There is not one corner in the enormity of the complex that is not finished perfectly.”
Emirates Palace Hotel
Horth says he was immediately drawn to the nonlinear quality of the palace’s architecture. “I’m not usually inspired by architecture unless it has a flow, such as round domes and straight edges; straight lines and corners don’t really do it for me. But in the end it’s not just the building, it’s the lifestyle happening within the building that excites people, and that’s exactly what I want to convey.”
For nine days, two models and tens of millions of US dollars in Argyle Pink Diamonds, set by UAE atelier Dhamani jewels, and Valentino dresses were draped around Emirates Palace, showcasing the hotel’s history and elegant grounds.
Thanks to Horth’s careful composition, however, the glittering objects never outshone the hotel’s splendour. In Horth’s words, “The models and jewels cannot upstage the subject because within this narrative, they and the environment complement one another and are, in fact, integral.” Horth says the palace “enjoys being lived in” and that the shoot worked because the model absorbs the palace’s daily joie de vivre.
“She belongs here because she is as beautiful as the environment that she lives in,” Horth explains. “She enjoys wearing the clothes as well as the finest jewels in the world. This shoot brings together so many beautiful and glittering things, and they work harmoniously.”
Parade of beauty
Emirates Palace general manager Holger Schroth comments on the photo shoot: “Emirates Palace is famously stunning, but it was difficult not to become overwhelmed by the grandeur of this shoot. It’s like nothing we have ever done before in scale and scope. The sets glittered with enormous pink diamonds, falcons flew in our Oriental gazebo and Arabian stallions reared on our beach and grandstanded at Emirates Palace’s impressive Main Gate.”
Emirates Palace sparkled in all her finery during the shoot, but one of Horth’s objectives was to evoke an Arabia of yesteryear. Though one might feel as though they have travelled to the future when they witness the futuristic Emirates’ skylines, Horth was intent upon emphasising the past and the manner in which Emirates Palace retains the essence of ancient Arabia.
“The Bedouin tent on the beach in front of the hotel, those beautiful camels and the Bedouins themselves serving you dates, tea and the coffee brewed for guests there over charcoal fires created the greatest scenes for our story,” Horth says. “The Emirati people are so generous and open to all who visit the country. Theirs is a culture that gracefully rewards you by its experience, and our aim was to convey that hospitality photographically.”
Capturing Mother Earth
Though Horth is known for his photographs of supermodels, landscape photography is nearer to his heart. In his homeland, he recently photographed the Argyle Diamond Mine in Western Australia. Horth finds inspiration in isolated places that others may consider empty. “Some may think of deserts as barren landscapes, but the truth is that these places are full of life when you look upon the trees dancing in front of you and drifting onto the horizon to meet the sky and the clouds. The white eucalyptus trees set against the red earth and burnt landscapes, to me, represent the quintessential Australian geography.”
Horth finds as much beauty in landscape as he does in the female form, and the analogy he draws reveals his inspiration. “The curvature of the earth and the shapes she creates are not dissimilar to the beauty of the female form,” he says. “Hence why I named the overall world exhibitions Mother Earth. This Kimberley exhibition is a chapter from Mother Earth.”
After discovering Abu Dhabi during his time at Emirates Palace, Horth intends to spend more time in the Emirates. “I would give anything to be invited out to the Rub’ al-Khali desert in eastern Abu Dhabi. I love the mystery the desert creates and can’t wait to get out there on another beauty adventure.”
Beauty adventures seem to find Anthony Horth. Though they don’t always involve glittering diamonds or Arabian stallions, Horth’s ability to capture a world of meaning and beauty in a grain of sand remains his international calling card.
Etihad Airways flies from Australian capitals to Abu Dhabi daily.
This article appeared in volume 27 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.