Stunning photos give a totally unexpected perspective into how the 1% parties

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Ananas De Cheveux, amfAR Benefit, Cannes 2000.
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Jessica Craig Martin

In the introduction to “Privilege,” style writer Glenn O’Brien describes photographer Jessica Craig-Martin as a “master (or perhaps we can still say mistress in this context) of the dark side of the glamour world and society pages.”

The following 67 images of decadent parties, galas, benefits, and industry events from across the world prove this statement to be true. Craig-Martin’s depiction of the elite is an awkwardly cropped, seemingly unglamorous moment. Her work depicts the underbelly of luxury, and yet, it’s still of course mesmerizing to look at.

Originally photographing a majority of these events for publications such as Vanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar over the span of 20 years, her collection of images for “Privilege” is what was left unpublished. Ahead, 10 images from the book, and Craig-Martin’s reflections on all of those parties.


O’Brien describes Craig-Martin as a “sort of spy” at the events, “camouflaged in her party gear as ‘one of us.'”

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Real Beauty, amfAR Benefit, Cannes, 2008
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Jessica Craig Martin

“I hide in plain sight, wearing what I call ‘guest drag,'” Craig-Martin told Business Insider.

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Bush Fundraiser, Georgette Mosbacher’s Home, New York, 2004.
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Jessica Craig Martin

Although it’s been written that Craig-Martin’s intentional cropping of faces is to protect their identity, she claims this simply isn’t true.

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Republican Breasts, Women’s Republican Guild, New York, 2004.
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Jessica Craig Martin

“Craig-Martin’s framing and cropping abandons the famous face in favor of the telling details,” O’Brien writes.

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Real Wasps, Wrong Party, Denise Rich Cancer Benefit, Southhampton 2007.
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Jessica Craig Martin

“The crops happened completely organically as I shot the exact frame I wanted. Then I had to figure out, ‘Why am I decapitating people?'” Craig-Martin said.

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Baronessa Cali Da Capri, Sutton Place, New York, 1998.
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Jessica Craig Martin

When she first arrives at events, Craig-Martin says she looks for the fish. “I look to see what the salmon is wearing. You can tell a lot about a party by how the fish is dressed.”

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Smiling Salmon, amfAR Benefit, Cannes 2008.
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Jessica Craig-Martin

Craig-Martin isn’t interested in making a statement on any one particular subject.

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Hair Leaving the Party, Rita Hayworth Alzheimer’s Benefit Gala, Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York, 1999.
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Jessica Craig Martin

“I’m just not interested in pointing out the foibles of individuals or celebrities. I’m much more interested in the general problem, of which I am also a part. The party is the problem,” she said.

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So Amusing, Cherry Blossom Party for Rena Sindi, New York, 2000.
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Jessica Craig Martin

Caligula, bingo night, and Tuesday: the three words Craig-Martin uses to describe the parties depicted in “Privilege.”

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Ananas De Cheveux, amfAR Benefit, Cannes 2000
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Jessica Craig Martin

“What sense of humor?” she says when asked how her own plays into the work.

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Tie-Dye Prada Weiners, Mama Gina Sex Lecture, New York, 2004.
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Jessica Craig Martin