By the time Wendy Stuart Kaplan met and married renowned photographer Alan Kaplan, she had already carved out her own totally unique perch in New York as a bona fide influencer and tastemaker. Born and raised in the Bronx, Wendy quickly became acquainted with soon to be bold faced names like Andy Warhol and Anthony Hayden Guest and was a regular at such NY-after hour haunts like Studio 54; Elaine’s and Irving Plaza.
She gained instant notoriety with her quick wit and ability to quickly assess trends; be it in fashion or in pop culture. She’s also released her own biography called She’s The Last Model Standing, which immediately gleaned terrific reviews and has just finished her film Whisperers and Witnesses; which won the Best Documentary award at the Chelsea Film Festival in NYC.
Iconic photographer Alan Kaplan was already famous for his revolutionary photographs that graced the pages of GQ and Italian Vogue when he met humanitarian and free-spirited Stuart. He encouraged her to pursue her dream of becoming a supermodel and advised her to travel to Europe to find fame and fortune.
What she found instead was a summer of misadventure and so when she came back to the states she did what any other girl growing up in the Bronx, whose mother encouraged her to seek employment at the telephone company, would do … she married Kaplan.
Thus began a partnership that has endured the test of time as they began roaming the globe filming and revealing the truth through their Model with a Mission-Visual Journeys that convey unique stories of indigenous people and endangered wildlife through Alan’s keen eye and Wendy’s quirky sense of humor and compassionate heart. Wendy appears as on-camera host as well as producer of the series.
Forthright, unflappable and adventurous Wendy forges ahead when she makes a decision. Whether it’s trekking to the isolated villages of the Omo Valley in Ethiopia to see what the latest fashion trends are (usually dating back hundreds of years) or hiring a soldier to get the Kaplans deep into the jungles of Cameroon for Whisperers and Witnesses, or hosting Night Of 1000 Stevies , 2:00 AM at Irving Plaza.
Wendy is fearless as long as long as she has her lip gloss, waterproof mascara, toothpaste and her eyes set on a site to discover chimpanzees, gorillas and rescue centers. She wants to tell a story that no one else has told before.
Wendy is a fearless globetrotter who when asked if she was afraid of the AK47’s that the Karo people carry, rolled her eyes and replied, “Are you kidding? The NYC subway is my midtown office! Now that’s scary when you think about it!”
Alan, a man wrapped in nonchalance and willing to take any risk Wendy dishes out carries his cameras and tripods like an Oscar. Kaplan has replaced the beautiful fashion people with the most interesting people who happen to be beautiful. Alan, holding his camera inches from a gorilla’s face or documenting natives in ceremonial dance or Manhattan’s nitty-gritty nightlife are what makes him the perfect blend of explorer, voyeur and diarist.
Wendy understands the human condition and knows when and how to bring a serious segment home but also is quick to find the quirkiness or comedy in any unfamiliar situation. In Fragile Beauty, A Visual Journey, drawing on her background as a professional model in the fashion industry, she explores the fashions and culture of indigenous people who have existed in the same manner for centuries. She takes full responsibility for what needs to be accomplished to change the rapid extinction of tribal people and at the same time records, with a light heart and respectful humor, the oddities along with the fears and joys of the people.
The Kaplans are never intruders or guests as they always strive to be players in the band. To accomplish such a feat the two understand that in order to be let in on the secret they must quickly gain the trust and friendship of whomever they meet. They must allow life to go at its own pace until they are asked to join in and become a part of everyday life that has been sheltered and isolated for, in some cases, centuries. Not an easy feat but one remarkably executed!
The Kaplans admission into the highly selective Explorers Club resulted in her film, Whisperers and Witnesses, being screened exclusively at the club. In fact, Kaplan can often be found at the club giving exclusive tours for interested parties – which she proclaims as everything you ever wanted to know about the Explorer’s Club but were afraid to ask.
A true force of nature … WENDY STUART KAPLAN.