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'Simply I' - Beautiful women without the gloss
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Casual AIDS charity portraits capture iconic ex-supermodel Lauren Hutton, Victoria's Secret model Heidi Klum, "Super Girl" Li Yuchun and actress Maggie Cheung.

In a true movement of solidarity, some of the world's most beautiful women have join forces to participate in "Simply I," a charity photo exhibition created to support AIDS-related charities and raise awareness of the global epidemic.

More than 100 top models, celebrities and actresses from around the world went to the studio of French photographer Gilles Marie Zimmerman in casual clothes. Most of them wore T-shirts and jeans and some didn't even wear makeup. They include supermodels Lauren Hutton and Heidi Klum and actresses Maggie Cheung and Milla Jovovich.

In a rare showcase of these amazing women, 80 striking black and white portraits by Zimmerman are on display at LOFT, a new creative fashion/art/lifestyle center in the heart of the city.

Among the original prints created specially for the Shanghai exhibition we find portraits of celebrities from Chinese mainland, such as, top model Du Juan, "Super Girl" Li Yuchun and actresses Zhou Xun, Li Xiaoran and Fan Bingbing. Both actress Cheung and model Klum were captured mop-topped, cool and unruffled.

Taiwanese actress Shu Qi gazes at the camera in her signature sexy way, her hands casually in her pockets; Shanghai native Du looks at the camera quietly, her mouth slightly opened as if she wanted to say something. And Australian supermodel Gemma Ward isn't afraid to reveal the freckles on her nose and the beams in her eyes.

"The more real, the better," explains Zimmerman when asked about his idea of the project. "I hope my pictures showcase the different beauty of these women of different ages and cultural backgrounds."

The 47-year-old doesn't have a favorite, he calls every one of them a dear friend. Surprisingly, he says, none of these celebrities was late for the shooting - not even by five minutes because "they all know they are doing something for the charity."

The one-month exhibition is free - but visitors are required to make a donation at the door. The exhibit supports the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and its joint programs with the Chinese government on pediatric AIDS prevention and education.

All proceeds from the exhibition, a future Paris auction and pledges from both individuals and corporations will be donated to UNICEF.

The "Simply I" exhibition was firstly presented in Paris in March to benefit the French AIDS charity organization "Sidaction." After the Shanghai exhibition, all the photos will shipped back to Paris for auction.

(Shanghai Daily December 10, 2007)

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