Although genuine innovation in fashion advertising remains rare, the need to attract the wandering eyes of today’s distracted, media-saturated consumers prompted some bold moves this season as brands sought to cut through the noise and differentiate themselves with unexpected, high-impact visual messaging.
From Louis Vuitton’s casting of the bubblegum-pink-haired protagonist of Final Fantasy XIII, cannily co-opting her multi-million-strong fanbase, to J.W. Anderson’s use of a photograph that was literally postage stamp-sized, brands challenged convention with their approaches.
The most successful campaigns acted as springboards for digital conversations. At Gucci, Glen Luchford shot another fashion film to accompany his offbeat tableaux shot in Berlin, while Marc Jacobs waded into the hot topic of gender politics by casting Lana Wachowski and a contestant from RuPaul’s drag race in his campaign. The message was abundantly clear: print campaigns may live in magazines, but the digital buzz they create is the real currency.
My Top 5 Campaign of S/S 2016 thanks to the Business of Fashion:
— Starring Alice Metza, Cameron Traiber, Greta Varlese, Kirin Dejonckheere and Tami Williams by Steve McCurry
The East African savanna forms the backdrop for Valentino’s latest collection. Creative directors Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri asked National Geographic legend Steve McCurry — known for his world-famous portrait “The Afghan Girl” — to turn his lens on Kenya’s Amboseli National Park as models wearing tribal inflected ready-to-wear posed under acacias and stood sentinel among leaping Masai tribespeople. The collection had sparked controversy in October after the designers were accused of cultural appropriation through the use of predominantly white models sporting cornrows and tribal-inspired garments. Simultaneously, however, it reminds us of the long-standing dialogue between fashion and the continent, which goes back as far as Saint Laurent’s animal prints in the 1960s, Iman’s arrival on the catwalk in the 1980s and Demi Moore standing next to a giraffe on the cover of the April 2010 issue of US Harper’s Bazaar.
— Starring Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbellby Steven Klein
Creative director Olivier Rousteing has bolstered the ranks of his Balmain army, recruiting three original supers who don’t need a surname. Dismissing the Kardashian clan but none of the trademark gloss, Claudia, Cindy and Naomi are captured in monochrome by Steven Klein with creative direction from Pascal Dangin. Rousteing released the images through his personal Instagram consisting of 2.2 million followers with the hashtag #thisisHISTORY, making a point that the campaign would be the first chapter in the brands’ efforts to go back to its roots.
— Starring Polina Oganicheva, Peyton Knight, Elizabeth Moore, Nicole Atieno, Mia Gruenwald, Anka Kurydina, Viola Podkopaeva, Jacob Hugo Goldhoorn, Timothy Dibble, Arnis Cievala and Anton Tofgart by Glen Luchford
How do you top a campaign that was heralded as last season’s very best? Do it again in Berlin was creative director Alessandro Michele’s answer as he faces the pressure to build on the momentum he gained by reviving the brand last year. Shot once again by Glen Luchford, the most alluring scene from the series is a party on a Berlin rooftop, suffused in langour and glamour. As the sun sets and the eccentric characters sashay about, the spectator is sucked into a 1970s fantasy world, desperate for an invite. Elsewhere in the campaign, night owls take the subway and hang out in club toilets; one even goes skateboarding with a peacock under her arm. Sumptuous, surreal and effortlessly cool, it’s another winner from the Italian house whose star is very much in the ascendant.
— Starring Lightening by Tetsuya Nomura with visual works by Square Enix
Louis Vuitton has taken the bold step of casting a CGI heroine in its latest campaign. By including Lightening from Final Fantasy XIII, the French brand ventures into the virtual world of anime and invites a double-take as the eye is drawn to the suspiciously unblemished, pink-haired model holding up a Petit-Malle bag. The brand worked in collaboration with character designer Tetsuya Nomura and Japanese video game developer Square Enix on the campaign, which also features Jaden Smith among other Vuitton vixens, shot by Bruce Weber.
— Starring Vera van Erp, Regitze Christensen and Karly Loyce by Juergen Teller
Creative director Phoebe Philo once again called on Juergen Teller for the latest Céline campaign. Starring new faces Vera van Erp and Regitze Christensen along with last season’s Karly Loyce, the models were cut out and set against coloured backdrops creating a scrap-book like collage. Following on from her Spring/Summer 2016 collection, when Philo was inspired by everything the Céline woman might need for a year-long trip, the campaign underscores the evolution of who that woman is. After that show, Philo said she imagined the Céline woman leaving the city, putting her feet in the sand, being in nature. The confident, unselfconscious women of this campaign, clothed in softer, freer lines than the stark minimalism once synonymous with Céline, appear ready to do just that.
What is your favourite campaign of Spring/Summer 2016?
Let me know in the comments section below…