Nima Benati, 23, is a photographer from Bologna who is quickly working her way up in the fashion world. She has many followers on all major social networks and has been hired by major brands for their advertising campaigns, (including Patrizia Pepe, Cruciani, Vladimiro Gioia and Pin Up Stars ), as well as doing covers for magazines like Maxim and Playboy.
We met her at the G&P cosmetics headquarters in Sansepolcro, where she was fotographing the Wonderland collection by Sens.us which will be launched 12th April. Nima is casually dressed, (white tank top, black trousers and sneakers) and, while her staff prepare the models, she takes care of all the detail. She has a nice, colourful character, and is an icon among the so-called Mediterranean curvy girls. She talks about herself with an air of self-irony; very rare among professionals in this area of work.
You got into photography in a ‘different’ way….
«Well yes, this is a bit awkward. At the time there was something similar to Facebook called Net Log. My friend and I enjoyed taking photos that we could use for our covers and trying to be trendier than everyone else. Then I realized the more pictures I took of my friend, the more I enjoyed trying to do something different. In 2007 Facebook arrived in Italy and I began to publish the photos, which were a big hit. I started taking more and more pictures, but this time using different subjects. I remember the models used to come round my house and my father would often find these people walking around half naked all day. I would take their photos against a neutral background like a wall; moving the tables in the living room to create an ideal set. This carried on until about 2 years ago. I’d started to save money so I could buy what I needed; every month I put a little bit more away, until now when things are a bit more serious».
Initially you had to deal with the layout, makeup, hair and post-production. Now that you’re surrounded by professionals, are you missing all of that?
«I did it all by myself until last year, but now I work with Chiara Bonacina and Silvia Mangano who do the hair and makeup, and I adore them. They’re professionals and this means I can concentrate more on the camera. With more people around me it also means there are more eyes on the job, so I make fewer mistakes».
You’ve been abroad with your work, including to America – what experience have you gained from your travels?
«I don’t know what to say! So many things happened! To begin with in America you have to have permission to take photographs. On a few occasions the police stopped us and we pretended to by students. Once in Times Square, the set was surrounded by curious people watching; at other times we were better organized and it was easier».
What importance have social networks and bloggers had for your work?
«Specifically Chiara Biasi was a stepping stone for me because she had many followers and gave me a chance to show what I was doing. When I started I was an amateur and there were a lot of people doing the same thing; I was lucky enough to be a forerunner».
Are curvy women a new form of inspiration for fashion?
«I sincerely think the fashion world talks about curvy models as if they were abnormal; therefore women with a bit of flesh on their bones are and always will be on a different page, (cites the example of the Pirelli calendar). I understand, and it is undeniable that, some high end fashion can make even the skinniest model look big and therefore a normal girl would look like a rhinoceros! It’s clear that if the clothes are structured, models need to be minute so the dress stands out. Officially a model is supposed to model clothes. Unsurprisingly, sexy curvy models are used more for swimwear or underwear».
What is the must-have for next season in your opinion?
«Really I should respond in a calm and prepared way having seen the all the fashion shows, but I don’t actually follow this aspect of fashion much, being a curvy girl myself! I don’t really like most of the plus size clothes: the bigger the stuff you wear the bigger you look. My must-have, however, is over-the-knee boots, because they lengthen the legs and make them appear much more sinuous, so I wear them a lot. Generally speaking, it’s more important to enhance your body than to follow fashion».
Out of all the fashion campaigns that you’ve done, which is your favourite?
«That’s a terrible question …. do you want me to get fired? To tell you the truth it’s always the last one that excites me the most».
We’re in the Altotevere, home of Monica Bellucci. Would you like to photograph her?
«Of course I would! Who wouldn’t? Where is she? Let’s call her!»