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I am women. You are women. We are women.

Calvin Klein Chief Creative Officer Raf Simons is obviously a fan of ‘women,’ choosing the word for his first fragrance for the house as well as the house’s first fragrance in 13 years. 

And to celebrate ‘women’ and all the word means today, the house has chosen two that represent today’s female strength and independence for the launch campaign: actors Lupita Nyong’o and Saoirse Ronan. Nyong’o is known for her roles in Black Panther and 12 Years a Slave, and Ronan for her role in Lady Bird

The campaign, by Creative Director Doug Lloyd and agency Lloyd & Co, was lensed by visual artist Anne Collier. A wise pick by Simons and crew, as recurring themes in her work have included feminism and gender politics, making her the perfect artist to project women for today. Because today, a fragrance campaign is communicated quite differently than yesterday.

Historically, Calvin Klein fragrance campaigns, such as Eternity, Euphoria, Obsession and Reveal, have had a male gaze, whether that be a lover, husband, or father. The women in these ads have been viewed simply as objects of desire. And while it may not have felt like ‘objectification’ at the time, in light of how far we have ventured, the older campaigns feel as though being desired was the ultimate goal for a woman.

However, today being a ‘woman’ means so much more, and the house was wise to recognize that. In the two films that accompany the campaign, Nyong’o and Ronan are seen in conversation, not in some sultry boudoir, but in a living room in front of a bookshelf no less, implying these are educated, artistically cultivated women who will control if and when they have interest in any form of a gaze. All on their own terms.

That well conceived concept is played out in the print image, which features technicolor portraits of Nyong’o and Ronan parallel to black-and-white images of women who have come before and inspired the actresses (Nyong’o chose Eartha Kitt and Katharine Hepburn, while Ronan chose Sissy Spacek and Nina Simone). Collier is known for capturing the human eye in her work, which is continued in the campaign, as well as on the bottle itself which too feels like a work of art.

Ads in many ways are a reflection of their times and fodder for ethnography. It is interesting to compare Calvin Klein’s fragrance campaigns and how they transition from a woman who needs a man to a woman who is content with who she is—powerful, independent, and strong … you know, a woman.

 

Calvin Klein Chief Creative Officer | Raf Simons
Agency | Lloyd & Co
Creative Director | Doug Lloyd
Photographer | Anne Collier
Talent | Lupita Nyong’o & Saoirse Ronan