Meet Luigi & Iango, The Photographic Duo Behind Arty Celebrity Imagery

Kate Moss, Claudia Schiffer, Penélope Cruz and Madonna are among the celebs they’ve strikingly photographed.

Madonna, New York (©Luigi & Iango/Phaidon Press)

Those with an interest in award-winning fashion photography will be familiar with the work of Inez & Vinoodh and Mert & Marcus. But there’s a newer, equally talented photographic duo—Luigi & Iango—that’s just now getting the global recognition they deserve, thanks to a new book being published to coincide with a recent major exhibition of their work, at Palazzo Reale Milano. Luigi Murenu, an ex-hairstylist, and Iango Henzi, a former classical dancer, first teamed up behind the lens in 2013, and they’ve since gone on to shoot more than 300 covers for various international editions of Vogue, as well as the likes of i-D, W, Vanity Fair, Chaos and Dust.

Bella Hadid, New York (©Luigi & Iango/Phaidon Press)

This isn’t their first exhibition; the duo’s work has been shown at the Brooklyn Museum, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Kunsthal Rotterdam, the Hypo-Kunsthalle in Munich and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, among others.

But it’s the first time a monograph of their work has been brought out as well; and as the publisher is the prestigious Phaidon Press, we foretell an ascent into superstardom isn’t far behind. In the past decade, they have photographed many famous people, including Kate Moss, Cate Blanchett, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Claudia Schiffer and Penélope Cruz. However, their most famous, and favorite, subject of all is Madonna, who graces the cover and wrote a preface for the book, which is titled Unveiled.

“Unveiled” book cover (©Luigi & Iango/Phaidon Press)

“Being photographed by Luigi & Iango is like being cast in one of my favorite Italian movies,” Madonna writes. “Visconti, Fellini or Pasolini. Take your pick. I am always transported to a world where nothing makes logical sense and everything looks beautiful. Whenever we work together, there are endless meetings with mood boards accompanied by the music of Maria Callas or the soundtrack of a Wong Kar-wai film. Discussions about cultural giants such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pina Bausch or Frida Kahlo are de rigueur.”

Małgosia Bela, New York (©Luigi & Iango/Phaidon Press)

She notes that there is “a controlled kind of chaos on the set of a Luigi & Iango shoot. The music is loud and atmospheric, and the casting is always unique and diverse. In the most recent shoot I did with them for Vanity Fair, I was asked to portray female archetypes in traditionally male roles. I was happy to indulge them. What woman doesn’t want to play Jesus with 12 female disciples? Or an 18th-century courtesan throwing tomatoes at a clown in a circus? [And] I did not question any of it, because somehow I understood the message they were trying to convey: that anything is possible, and more importantly, that we are all players, united in the drama of life…. Through their lens we are transported into a world where boundaries are pushed and preconceived notions are challenged. The images in Unveiled are a testament to the power of art and a celebration of the human spirit.”

Lupita Nyong’o, New York (©Luigi & Iango/Phaidon Press)

In the introduction to the book, which he edited, curator and creative director Thierry-Maxime Loriot declares that the images “reflect not only [Luigi & Iango’s] themes, passions and obsessions, but also our society and today’s values, born from a double vision fused by a single approach. They embody a quest for atypical beauties and artistic expression conducted through the photographers’ lenses. In their work, the key to their intense quest for perfection, as they attempt to find the best light, lies in the detail.”

Ugbad Abdi, New York (©Luigi & Iango/Phaidon Press)

He notes that, “their aim is to create a style that not only expresses who they are with a light that is ‘graphic,’ but also to offer a photography with values that are ‘honest, direct and somehow reveal and represent a truth.’ When they explore color pictures, the light is created as in a painting, a delicate and mysterious chiaroscuro. Iango mentions that their images are never static; they are the independent evolution of a distinctive vision.”

Gigi Hadid, Milan (©Luigi & Iango/Phaidon Press)

The photographers themselves state that, “We wish to remove the veil one layer after another, and unveil to discover a hidden, diverse and unconscious beauty, discover a new aspect, be surprised, provoked, shocked; it is a long process. We wish to take the time to discover, to observe, to seek, make a small thing, an emotion, a real monument.”

Anok Yai, New York (©Luigi & Iango/Phaidon Press)

They have something of an inspirational message to impart as well, going deeper than the aesthetic beauty on the surface of their compelling images. “What people should be concerned with is moving forward, creating a better world, trying to do something different, more beautiful, more meaningful,” they proclaim.

“In a world dominated by fast and sometimes filtered images, we find that it is time to go back to working on excellence, quality and meaning. Excellence and quality are a matter of study, time, talent and investment. Meaning is the need to always incorporate value and progress in every artistic expression. Meaning, beauty, progress: these are, in short, the values that motivate and guide our work today.”

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2024 issue of Maxim magazine.