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84 Gifts
Between dream and reality.
At the Modern Art Center in Geneva, famous Parisian photographer Mai Duong had a photo shoot
with eight women and one of the men from Edelweiss Magazine’s redaction team. They reveal in the
following pages, their “dream gifts for Christmas”. By Linn Levy.

“How would I describe my work? Let’s say I’m a little bit borderline, always halfway between dreams
and reality. I take pictures of a woman like she’s a landscape. I want to make her beautiful while
unraveling her personality.”
Mai Duong is a photographic portrait star, who is elegant enough to remain humble and discreet. As
a matter of fact, that’s her secret: she erases herself to be a better observer of her models and
manage to understand them before photographing them. “The lighting and the atmosphere of the
studio are fundamental elements for me” she stresses. “I think a lot about cinema and also about the
architecture of the place where we shoot when I work.” This is why it took her so long to pick the
right place – the Modern Art Center in Geneva, in the quartier des Bains- to take a picture of the
Edelweiss Magazine’s journalists. “I feel like this place perfectly fits the image of a women’s
magazine that sticks to the spirits of the times, it’s urbane, alive and dynamic!”. The Parisian woman,
born from a Vietnamese father and a Spanish mother, grabbed a camera for the first time at age 10.
“I started really young and I had the chance to have a little sister (editor’s note: the famous artist and
model Anh Duong) who loved dancing and who would model for me.” Since then on, she never
stopped taking interest in her contemporary female fellow artists, made a name for herself -and
gained worldwide recognition- thanks to her subtle and delicate portraits of women. “I am a gut-
feelings kind of person. I try to stick to my first impression when I meet someone” she explains.
“Most of the time, my guts are right.” Too kind and too soft, Mai? “Of course not, because there’s
always something a little bit violent in a portrait. The subject shows themselves, unveils themselves
and sometimes it’s a tough birthing process.” The man and women from Edelweiss Magazine who
had the chance to be taken a picture of by Mai to illustrate their page entitled “dream gifts for
Christmas” came back delighted. An experience between dream and reality…