With a passion for the visually arresting, the gift of creating a distinctive voice, and an innovative style all their own, Robert Lussier and Mia Forsgren are the fashionable founders of The Style Council, an image-driven agency in Paris with deep-seated roots in luxury, fragrance and beauty. The think tank of a shop with a no-boundaries philosophy has helped the likes of Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Loewe, Givenchy, Graff and Ray-Ban to stand out from the crowed on a dynamic global stage. The Impression’s Dao Tran sat with the duo to catch up on the shop, their label LESNOB, and finding inspiration in the cafes or countryside of Paris.
Dao Tran: Let’s dive right in with where you got your start.
The Style Council: Well, it’s been quite a ride since we first met in New York City, working together at a fashion advertising agency, and we instantly connected, both personally and creatively. After 4 years running the fragrance division there, we were offered an amazing opportunity to relocate to Paris and head up the internal creative studios of Christian Dior Parfums, working on fragrance campaigns such as Miss Dior, J’adore, Dior Homme & Eau Sauvage.
Dior Couture also asked us to create the Lady Dior handbag series, in which we traveled around the globe with Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard who appeared in a series we did of short films by different cinematic directors and campaigns by leading fashion photographers. The collection of photographs and films inspired the ‘As Seen By’ coffee table book and traveling exhibition of over 10 years of creative, and continues to travel the world today.
We created the Louis Vuitton travel campaigns L’invitation au Voyage, The Spirit of Travel handbag series as well as the launch of the first LV fragrance campaign, Beyond Perfume. It’s been quite a ride, but we are just getting started.
Dao Tran: That’s an impressive start. Where did you take it from there?
The Style Council: After 7 years in-house, we felt it was time to stretch our wings a bit. Having our own agency was the best way to have the freedom we wanted, while still specializing in the things we both love. So, The Style Council was born as full-fledged luxury boutique agency. Over our first four years, we have focused on fragrance, beauty, fashion and accessories.
Wehave been able to branch out and attract brands we’ve always wanted to work with, most recently being Loewe and Givenchy. Each new client really just expands our palette, because every project calls for a unique vision. That’s the only way to stay competitive in luxury now—with equal parts of authentic luxury and social relevance.
Dao Tran: Do you think the social relevance aspect is being driven by the new generation of consumers?
The Style Council: 100%. For instance, Massimo Dutti are very storytelling but hadn’t done much on social media, they hadn’t embraced it. So this shoot that we did with Mikael Jansson in Sweden is taking what they already had and pushing them. Instead of just doing it in English and subtitling it, we did it in the native language, which is very unique and very international. It’s going to give them a distinct identity.
We think the key words today are creative, innovative and personal. When anyone posts anything personal, it gets a lot more response. We think consumers want to be almost invited into their personal world – that’s a newness that we always want to think about. Having that personal voice is also something that The Style Council is known for, we always try to tell a story, there’s always a narrative. Aspirational brands like Gucci and Balenciaga are the new luxury, the innovative luxury, it’s something that almost shocks you but it’s still beautiful and luxurious. That’s what we’re interested in – chic, smart and unexpected.
Everyone knows there’s been a revolution in the whole industry, including luxury. But one thing hasn’t changed: it takes a certain kind of vision, experimental and experiential. That’s what we’ve done. Today, we assemble that vision in more flexible, multi-channel ways.
Dao Tran: What about LESNOB, is that part of your evolution?
The Style Council: LESNOB is another creative extension, it is a very personal exploration and passion project. My real aspiration when I was young was to be a designer. I was always a fan of fashion, I would collect fabulous vintage designer bags. So LESNOB is a luxury handbag brand that I started to develop and when you have money to sponsor it yourself, there’s nothing to hold you back. We’ve been experimenting with our concept store pop up in Paris, in collaboration with Valois Vintage. In September, we’ll have the pop up in Printemps between Chanel and Gucci.
Dao Tran: Congratulations!
The Style Council: Thank you! I’m very proud of it. The brand is growing into the ‘World of LESNOB.’ Mia is a perfume lover and we just by chance met a perfumer in Paris that I’m obsessed with – the iconic niche fragrance house Les Parfums de Rosine Paris – so she asked whether they would do a collaboration. I think collaborations are a great way to get your foot into lifestyle brands. Together, Le Snob and Rosine have developed three scents, each with its own ‘esprit,’ all based on our love of rose as it occurs in the modern world. The trio has also inspired a film that celebrates the LESNOB woman by Russian director Masha Vasyukova, launching during FW19 in Paris entitled Avant Garden. We also found Maison Honoré, which is a young t-shirt designer – he has the best cotton, he has the mills, so we collaborated with him and the t-shirt sales have been great. They and fragrance alike are more affordable ways to enter a luxury brand.
Dao Tran: I’m glad you get to fulfill your childhood aspirations to be a designer!
The Style Council: I know! If you don’t do it, you know… you live once. I have fun, it’s a lot of work, but I love it.
Dao Tran: Good for you! Like Inez & Vinoodh, interested in how the two of you work so closely together?
The Style Council: Not only do we work together, we also spend our holidays together—though we are not a couple. We each have our own partners, and thankfully they’re friends. Outside the office, we find worlds of new inspiration, which we take back to the office to distill and refine. We’re both veteran travelers and we escape from our homes in Paris to Normandy whenever we can, where we maintain the ‘country’ office of The Style Council. That’s the best thing about the way technology has changed everything. We can work anywhere.
The Style Council’s way of working mirrors our home base in Paris. The city is endlessly inspiring and it was important that we remain based in Europe as most of our clients are just around the corner – Dior and Givenchy are based in Paris, Loewe in Madrid, Graff in London, etc. We can be to our clients in no time, and also, since we are two, one can be in NYC while the other is in Paris.
Dao Tran: Awesome that you have a ‘country office’ in Normandy. With all the things you have on your plate, is that how you escape?
The Style Council: We arrive early as we are both morning people, and early evening we escape to enjoy the beautiful iconic cafe life of Paris. A lot of great ideas come from sitting at different cafes around the city! And an escape to the countryside is always refreshing—some of our best concepts were created there. After all, The Style Council sells escape! We are creators of campaigns that take you away and make you dream, whether it’s for fashion, a handbag, lipstick or a bottle of perfume.
Dao Tran: It’s great people-watching at Parisian sidewalk cafes. Do you have your favorites?
The Style Council: Our two favorites are Café Hibou, which is literally our local across the street, where we go for lunch or drinks after work, and the iconic Café de Flore. But then our secret is the Bristol Garden, where we come up with a lot of our concepts over a glass of Chardonnay, we always sit in the back because there’s a fountain, it’s so beautiful and peaceful, our private VIP office!
Dao Tran: Your work sounds like too much fun! Thanks for sharing your tale and favorites.
The Style Council: Our pleasure.
Portrait Photo | Peter Lindbergh
Versace has opened a boutique in Bal Harbour that mixes sustainability with an unexpected energy infused with light and shadow, substance and emptiness, and flow and focus.
The new store, located at 9700 Collins Avenue in Bal Harbour Shops was designed by renowned architect Gwenael Nicolas with the highest sustainability standards in mind, the space features a striking floor and ceiling. The brass ceiling radiates beams of rays, held delicately by a forest of bronze strings. The floor, assembled by hand by Italian artisans, is a mosaic that mixes modernity with tradition. In its commitment to sustainability, the house has reached LEED Gold-level for interior design and construction through the boutique’s construction of recycled, recyclable, and responsible materials, including the glass in the mosaic, FSC-certified wood in the structure, and recomposed marble in elements throughout the space. In addition, dimmable lights with central control and climate control equipment ensure efficient use of energy.
“There’s no bigger luxury than our future,” said Donatella Versace. “The new Versace concept is a commitment towards Versace’s sustainable legacy.”
9700 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33154
Creative director Demna Gvasalia of Balenciaga has been looking to make a case for ‘Reality is what you make it’ between his last Spring 2019 showing set in a tunnel like computer and his latest campaign narrative in collaboration with digital artist Yilmaz Sen.
Last fall for Balenciaga’s spring show the designer partnered with visual artist Jon Rafman to create an experiential set designed to make one feel as though they were inside a computer. In his quest to continue to warp reality, Gvasalia has turned to Copenhagen-based digital artist Yilmaz Sen on a series of altered reality films to promote Spring 2019. Sen is known for his SIM-like characters artwork whose bodies convert to ping-pong balls or limbs propel in inhuman ways.
Sen spent a month shooting with Balenciaga collaborator Lotta Volkova in a nondescript part of Copenhagen’s meatpacking district before turning to his post production. The result is an eerie like campaign that should you care for it or not, separates the house from the pack and aligns itself with a generation that was born to digital and thrives for newness. The campaign is a smart play and one that hopefully will lead to continued collaborations with digital artist as the lane is wide open in fashion for Balenciaga to own.
Balenciaga Creative Director | Demna Gvasalia
Director | Yilmaz Sen
Stylist | Lotta Volkova
Production | Makropol
Cinematographer | Peter Hjorth
Photogrammetry | Rigsters
Sound | Mads Michelsen
Post Production Assets | Viljam Smed, Lennart Wendt
Production Designer | Anna Cathrine Colberg
Production Coordinator | Sarah Chheiber
Gaffer | Aslak Lytthans
As we approach the holiday for giving thanks, Barneys New York unveils its new holiday campaign, Make Change, about giving to those in need in the present to help better their futures.
Make Change, the new campaign made in partnership with Save the Children, has a simple message: one small change can make a big difference in a child’s life, even a single coin. The campaign supports Save the Children in its mission to help millions of children that live in poverty in the US by providing early education programs books, literacy and math programs, parent-child playgroups and training tools for teachers. Actress and Save the Children Trustee Jennifer Garner lends her voice to share this message in a PSA and encourages all to give what they can for early childhood education programs in the US.
“14 million children live in poverty in the United States, and their risk of entering school ill-prepared to succeed is high,” Garner says in the PSA. These children are “behind their upper and middle class peers by the age of 4” and run the risk of struggling in school and later on in life. Barneys is raising awareness through its campaign and also through its annual holiday windows.
The Barneys Madison Avenue flagship store now features the phrases “Make Change” and “Change Matters” on a wall of pennies in its windows, as well as an interactive mirrored infinity room indoors that feels like being at the bottom of a wishing well, and a lounge area where guests can take hands-free photos and share online.
With Make Change, we challenged ourselves to rethink our approach to our creative elements. By starting with the concept of a coin, which can seem small in the luxury world, we’ve created engaging experiences that show that small changes can make a big difference, and invite our customers to participate in the power of change.
Make Change has fun with the literal meaning of ‘change’, even with a social media campaign playing on the word ‘cent’ with hashtags like “centsational” and “centsitive”, but it serves as a reminder of how something that can seem so insignificant can make a big impact on one’s life.
In a beauty world absorbed with “insta-moments,” it is refreshing to meet a professional who understands the value of a good foundation. Having paid her dues both behind the counter and later assisting Pat McGrath, Makeup Artist, Erin Parsons has earned her reputation as fashion’s go-to for makeup moments. Between editorial projects for the likes of Love, Another, V, InStyle, Vogue, and Numero, traveling the world with client Gigi Hadid, and becoming Maybelline New York’s Global Makeup Artist, Parsons relies on that foundation to add value. The Impression spoke to the beauty expert about Instagram moments, how she partners, and the changing face of fashion.
Kenneth Richard: Erin, thanks for sitting to chat with us today. We don’t get the chance to chat makeup much. How did this story begin for you?
Erin Parsons: I started working in retail at the age of 18 after leaving the Air Force. First with Lancôme and then Mac Cosmetics. I did this for about 10 years before taking the leap to move to New York and try my hand at working in the fashion industry.
It was a struggle and, for a couple of years, I made almost no money at all. I emailed everyone and rarely ever got a reply. There was a point where I could not afford to eat and this led to the infamous “ketchup soup” moment in my life. I was lucky, though, as I had a friend that worked with Pat McGrath, and she got me on the fashion shows. After a few seasons I went full time with Pat and stayed for about 6 years. Through it all, I am grateful I worked in retail as long as I did because I experienced applying makeup on every skin tone and age and, most of all, every type of personality, which preps you more than anything for working in this industry.
Kenneth Richard: Your time with Pat must have been informative. What did you pick up from her?
Erin Parsons: Pat is a fearless makeup artist, but she taught me much more than makeup. There’s a lot that goes into working in this industry. You’ve really got to love being around people and working with other creatives. You’ve got to trust the process and give all you’ve got to make every project incredible. She’s a true genius and puts 100% into everything she does. I am extremely fortunate to have learned from the best, as nothing else could have prepared me more to work in this industry.
Kenneth Richard: Thinking back from your time behind the counter and selling to where you are today, is the industry what you envisioned?
Erin Parsons: I had no idea of what to expect when I left working retail. You create this fantasy in your mind of what you will experience, but actually, it’s a lot of hard work, physically and emotionally. With this can be the most rewarding moments in your life.
I’ve also seen a lot of changes from when I started, designers are all at different houses now. Budgets have changed, so maybe you had two days to do a shoot and now you have one. There’s a lot less time to actually think of the creative part. Now, you’ve got to do 10 pages in a day with changes. It’s physically grueling at times, and you’ve got to give your all every time in order to make an amazing story. I truly feel blessed to be where I’m at now, and I always strive to go even further. It’s important to set goals and have a lot of focus to make it happen.
Kenneth Richard: The beauty world was first to really embrace the digital age; how has digital shaped what you do?
Erin Parsons: What’s so great about it is the makeup artists are becoming celebrities in their own right. This was a rare thing before social media. It gives the people behind the scenes a voice and that’s amazing in itself.
Now I find myself doing a shoot and wanting an amazing look, so I can post on Instagram. It’s another outlet that allows one to share something they’re proud of and gives a bit of glory in the accolades that follow. Also, if you can master social media, it’s an outlet that allows artists to shine in a way that may have not been possible before.
Kenneth Richard: Speaking of shining, you’re known to be a real study of the arts in prepping for shoots. How do you go about preparing?
Erin Parsons: I can look through my references of books, magazines, and films, but I find trying the looks on my own face actually helps me develop the ideas best. If I have a day or two before a shoot, I will prep looks as much as possible because on the actual day, you might not have much time to do the makeup so you’ve got to move quick. Being extra prepared gives you confidence on what will look great in a photo or what will create the best character so you can perfect the process without stalling or thinking too much in the moment.
Kenneth Richard: Between shows, shoots, consulting, and private clients, do you have a few passion points that draw you in more than others?
Erin Parsons: I love creating characters. It’s probably why I’ve always been so obsessed with classic films. The way an eyebrow can create a decade or a lip color can enhance an outfit and bring to life the designer’s vision of the woman who wears their clothes. Makeup can be an important element that creates a legend. What would people think of Marilyn Monroe without those infamous red lips?
Kenneth Richard: You’re right, not sure it would be her singing. What do you do, work wise, that people are surprised to find out about?
Erin Parsons: Probably that I try the looks on my own face. I’ll send the photographer ideas and sometimes they’re like, who is that? I’ve completely transformed myself from what I look like day to day. And that’s what I love most of all about the power of makeup. It’s the transformation, whether physical or emotional. When you create a look and the model feels she is that character, she can give more to the part, which is what helps create iconic photos.
Kenneth Richard: On the model note, you’ve teamed famously with Gigi Hadid. How did you two meet and build a connection, and what did that partnership mean to you?
Erin Parsons: I met Gigi while working on the shows. Sometimes a connection is unexplainable. We simply got along, and what I love most is that she really enjoys makeup. She has learned what shape of eye or color of lip suits her best, so we work together to create the makeup look. She’s also an extremely kind human being and takes care of the people around her. I’ve travelled the world thanks to her, and she also introduced me to the team at Maybelline. I don’t think I’d be where I am now if it weren’t for her support.
Kenneth Richard: Tell us about Maybelline, what has that opportunity afforded you?
Erin Parsons: I’ve talked about setting goals, and I used to wake up every morning and say I want a contract with Maybelline. I absolutely love the brand and the people that work for it. It’s unbelievable to know that the work we do together is seen all over the world. When the new products come out and we create an ad for it, they allow for full creativity on my part. That’s such a rare thing in an industry that’s dictated by sales. They trust me and the vision I have and we work together to create an iconic photo that represents the product and the brand. I’m truly honored to be their global makeup artist. Working with them means I get to do what I love the most, which is create beauty.
When I was a child I would tear out pages of magazines and hang them on my walls. These included photos of Maybelline ads. To come full circle and be the one helping to create those gives me hope that I’m inspiring other future artists out there in the world!
Kenneth Richard: Well, congrats on coming 360 and looking forward to seeing what you inspire.
Erin Parsons: Thank you.
Portrait Photo | Mark Seliger for The Impression 250
Black & White Photos | Luigi & Iango
Color Photos | Yulia Gorbachenko
Following on the heels of their recent spring 2019 men’s campaign with Travis Scott, Saint Laurent Creative Director Anthony Vaccarello has once again teamed with David Sims to lens the houses #YSL19 campaign.
Saint Laurent is one of the few houses who understands longer form seasonal narrative releasing segments of their campaigns over the course of several months so as to not give it all away at once. This seasons tale is told with the help of talents Amber Valletta, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and one of The Impression’s pick for top breakout models of 2018, Rebecca Leigh Longendyke. The casting by Samuel Ellis Scheinman, is one of the few that is actually in synch with the intended consumer; as we all know how often luxury items are portrayed on models decades in age from the intended market.
Sims continues is signature hand at making clean studio work relevant and more importantly memorable, especially in contrast to the houses greatest asset, their logo. There is a youthful and biting edge to the overall campaign, perhaps it is the legs, but most likely it is the humanistic element of the expressions, especially from Valletta. Her carefree expressions make the viewers feel they have caught her in a candid moment which helps endear the brand. Iggy Pop’s The Passenger has been the houses signature title track for the past seasons films and it still plays well as a thread to tie the campaigns together. Overall the campaign is consistent, memorable and continues the narrative without feeling stale. Leaving us to recognize sometimes it is nice to play the role of the passenger, just leaning back to enjoy the view while trusting the driver to drive.
Saint Laurent Creative Director | Anthony Vaccarello
Photographer/Director | David Sims
Models | Charlotte Gainsbourg, Amber Valletta, Rebecca Leigh Longendyke
Stylist | Alastair McKimm
Hair | Duffy
Casting Director | Samuel Ellis Scheinman
Producer | Laura Holmes
Music | Iggy Pop – The Passenger
Pinko Spring 2019 Collection
The footwear house of Schutz, one of Brazil’s largest footwear labels, continues its international expansion into the U.S. opening a new flagship in Miami at the Aventura Mall.
The 1,500-square-foot store location on the first level includes RFID mirrors along with an omnichannel integration, allowing for offline and online shopping in tandem. That integration included images of campaign regular Adriana Lima who attended the recent opening. The mauve key backlit focal wall is paired with mid-century modern furnishing in velour and woolens to give the minimalistic space a comforting feel.
19501 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33180
While regarded as one of the originators of modernism, Scottish architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh passed in obscurity 90 years ago never knowing how his work would go on to influence generations. His seismic influence on the 20th century Arts & Crafts movement is still being felt to this day and Mackintosh was the subject of a major exhibition at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum, which celebrated 150 years since his birth and was met with record attendance.
Now, Creative Director JW Anderson and the house of Loewe too has celebrated the artisan via a special seasonal collection inspired by his work. Mackintosh is known for his masculine woodwork combined with cream tones as well as graphic shapes derived from nature. Loewe honors his distinctive aesthetic by incorporating his signature grid patterns, stained glass windows and botanical watercolours paintings onto coats and blankets. To commensurate the collection, Loewe’s campaign images, shot by Craig McDean and art directed by M/M Paris, even included some of Mackintosh’s chairs.
Loewe Creative Director | JW Anderson
Agency | M/M Paris
Photographer | Craig McDean
Talent | Fran Summers, Félix Sueur, Giselle Norman
Stylist | Benjamin Bruno
Hair | Anthony Turner
Makeup | Lynsey Alexander
Casting | Ashley Brokaw
For the past 25 years, Alexandre de Betak has become fashion’s go-to ringmaster for creating buzz via cutting-edge shows and events. As the industry stands at the crossroads, he and a handful of others have a glimpse of what lies ahead for fashion communication. Chief Impressionist Kenneth Richard speaks with Alex about the changing dynamics of fashion shows, how technology will enhance the experience, and how he sees the game being played next.
Kenneth Richard: Alex, thanks for sitting down and chatting with us as we know you’ve been busy with shows. Do you have down time at all anymore?
Alexandre de Betak: No, not anymore. When I started, people thought my job was completely seasonal, working just summers and winters, and the rest of the time was free. That’s long gone. We do so many events and shows and start working on them way earlier now that no one thinks that.
Today, we are being consulted for different types of, “experiences,” as everyone likes to call them now. They are projects of permanent or semi-permanent installations for retailers, real estate developers, and hotel groups. For instance, we’re doing a big event in Macau for a casino group next week. There is a consistent increase in the number of events we do. We also consult for a lot of our clients, and not just on shows. We’ve taken what we’ve been doing for over 25 years in fashion and molded it into installations that be activated every day, every hour, or even every moment.
Kenneth Richard: Assume the catalyst for all of that is the fact that every one of these events now gets broadcasted around the world opposed to just being seen by the 800 people that are there. Budgets must be up for events.
Alexandre de Betak: Yes, they are growing proportionally to how big they already were. Small designers and small companies without those budgets don’t suddenly have an increase. On the other hand, the large ones are growing because this form of communication brings the most return.
The “experience” is one major new word for companies and obviously, “instagramability,” or the “selfie,” is important in anything we do. I’ve been saying it for years, and it is finally materializing. Other industries are now catching on to how fashion communicates creating these pinnacle moments. With meaningful budgets and serious effort into a short moment that is very media worthy. With Instagram and social media, the audience generates instant free buzz. I believe we are at just the beginning of the movement where companies recognize they need the types of things we do.
Kenneth Richard: What are smart brands getting right today versus ones resisting the evolution?
Alexandre de Betak: Evolution is one of the keywords. There’s less of a recipe that works for everyone and there’s a bigger need for creativity.
There is a need for brands to be more creative, more themselves, and more daring than ever. The ones who do it right are the ones who take risk. There are many different ways of taking risk, but people in brands should view it as a positive.
What’s the common denominator between the inclusion that everyone wants today? The diversity of looks, colors, religions, shapes, and sizes are basically a claim and a need for more truth. Truth as in what is the world made of. I believe that brands that get it right already are being true to themselves which in turn leads the creatives to be truer to themselves. That leads to the truth spoken: being transparent; being real. I think people want reality, and everyone wants to dream. We’ve been an industry that created somewhat artificial images because it is easier to make a dream than reality. And we still need to create amazing realities that make people dream, but we need to show them in a realistic and truthful manner; which is very new for all of us.
Kenneth Richard: What is the skill set that it takes to do this today versus yesterday?
Alexandre de Betak: I think the skill sets today include open-mindedness to absolutely everything and not restricting your jobs to something specific. Now, it’s really about finding an idea that will check all the boxes. You may need something remarkable, emotional, truthful, “Instagrammable,” or memorable.
Many think it is just the set, and an amazing set can be what makes a fashion show or an experience memorable, but it could also be because of the lighting, special effects, casting, music, storytelling, emotion, and all of the visuals. In fact, I love creating emotion in the dark with the set left unlit for a long time, creating emotion with sound effects, smell, humidity, you name it. There has to be no limit to the tools we use.
I like to think that too much consistency gets boring, so I take a step back and tell our teams or our client to stop a second. Before we take a pencil and draw anything, we should propose a collaboration with something completely crazy−with an artist or a cook. There are a million approaches to an event.The set is only one of the elements.
Kenneth Richard: A leg of a table.
Alexandre de Betak: It’s one of the legs of the tables and table could have many legs, no legs, or one. Really, there is no rule. What makes the best brands best? It isn’t relying on a recipe. I think great brands have great history, or DNA. You don’t erase the DNA even though you can put on a costume for a minute. Similar to dressing up for a party.
Kenneth Richard: What does a good client come to you with?
Alexandre de Betak: Thankfully, they’re all very different, and I tend to attract the ones that have the most needs or are the most extreme. Some of them come with a brief that I listen to and my team and I will comeback with ideas. Others come with briefs that I don’t listen to at all, because sometimes I read the description of a brief and realize this could apply to anybody. It seems counter-effective. There are creative directors of houses that are actually incredibly clear on what they want. I think the greatest minds have to be open-minded and the greatest brands have to be open-minded.
Kenneth Richard: When those creative directors come to you with an idea, are you able to propose another? There aren’t many people who would say, “Maybe we should look on the other side of the mountain.”
Alexandre de Betak: I think part of me always did that. When I was a teenager, I was already like that. It was based on the complete lack of knowledge of the topics, mediums, or fashion in general. I knew nothing about it. I came at it intuitively, and with pure naiveté. Trust me, when you ask me the question again, I would say a lot of it has to do with experiences as I’ve done over 1,100 hundred shows now.
Kenneth Richard: So many you see them in your sleep. Do you have a reoccurring dream about shows?
Alexandre de Betak: Yes, I do actually. I continue to dream that they could be much better!
Fashion shows are unlike other mediums, such as concerts, because you do them once. It’s a cliché, but true. Fashion shows are done only once. You may rehearse it for a minute a half and but it can always be better, and that’s why we do another one. I believe we won’t repeat fashion shows, but we will begin exploring the idea of the medium of what a fashion show is. By medium, I mean the way we communicate through those events and do more semi-permanent installation with them. Everyone wants an interactive experience today. People book tickets to an event. They go, they see, they watch, they’re in the dark, the stage is lit, and that’s it. No one wants that anymore.
Kenneth Richard: One of the experiences that has changed for me is the resort shows. I can’t make it out to 90% but we live broadcast so many that I experience them like a sport, from the couch. Of course, I wasn’t able to enjoy the rain at the last Dior cruise show, which I loved, in part because of the rain.
Alexandre de Betak: Next time I’ll bring you a little rain machine to your couch!
I wish we could share all the emotion that we manage to transmit live through a screen. We will get there one day. I believe we will manage to extend the experience to people that aren’t live, through the angles and point of view that we share. We now film in new ways that can bring an exclusive point of view to a screen audience.
But I don’t wish for all of the important events of our lives to be lived only virtually. I want people to be attracted to more live experiences because if we don’t manage to do that, there would be no reason at all for any of them. If technology helps us and helps you be better in the couch than not, if technology will help you print the food you could have at the restaurant better without waiting or without any reservation, if it will make you receive the goods you need faster and cheaper than if you went to a store, then there will be no reason in life for you to leave that couch. I will continue to find reasons for you to leave that couch.
Kenneth Richard: Well, I’m prepared to leave the couch, and appreciate you joining me here on one Alex. Thank you very much for coming in today.
Alexandre de Betak: You’re very welcome.
Portrait Photo | Mark Seliger for The Impression 250
Photos from Top | Saint Laurent Spring 2019, Dior Spring 2016, Calvin Klein Fall 2018, Galliano Fall 2009
Alexander McQueen Resort 2019 Collection
Comme des Garçons Comme des Garçons Spring 2019 Collection
Off-White Pre-Fall 2019 Menswear Collection by Virgil Abloh
In the early summer Alexander Wang opted to buck the traditional fashion calendar showing his Spring 2019 collection in early June. The punk meets Americana meets Chinoiserie collection may have been out-of-site-out-of mind for many top 10 list, but certainly made a mark here at The Impression, earning a Top 10 of New York spot.
Wang’s early lead is continuing into spring as the designer has just released ‘Collection 1’ of three campaigns that will relate to each of his three main inspirations.
For his first drop available on the designers site, Wang enlisted photographer Brianna Capozzi (who lensed the office story of adidas Originals by Alexander Wang) to shoot #WangSquad regulars, Anna Ewers and Binx Walton, along with Masamichi Nyunoya, Adesuwa Aighewi, Francesco Cuizza, and IRL pageant queen and Tiny Miss Maryland USA Laniya Spence.
The suburban All-American themed narrative toys with iconic high school activities from football to cheerleading, to car dates to lounging in front of the telly. Overall the narrative is a fresh start for the house and one that brings cohesive storytelling and memorable imagery back into the fold. The Impression hopes that beyond earned media and social it is one the house will put at the very least a wild posting campaign behind as it deserves to be send outside of a backlit screen.
Alexander Wang Creative Director | Alexander Wang
Photographer | Brianna Capozzi
Models | Adesuwa Aighewi, Anna Ewers, Binx Walton, Francesco Cuizza, Laniya Spence, Masamichi Nyunoya
Stylist | Haley Wollens
Hair | Jawara
Makeup | Yumi Lee
Set Designer | David White
Manicurist | Naomi Yasuda
Casting Director | Samuel Ellis Scheinman
In the echelons of fashion, public relations, and show production, there are but a handful of firms that have the creative vision, strategic experience, and quality of execution to help houses navigate today’s dynamic fashion landscape. Julie Mannion, Co-Chairman of Creative Services at KCD, has been at the helm of one of those firms for 30 years, and along the way helped houses like Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Versace, Tommy Hilfiger, Coach, and others to grow globally. On the eve of another season of fashion shows, The Impression’s Kenneth Richard sat to discuss with Julie her passion for the industry, partnering, new media, a killer team, and New York Fashion Week.
Kenneth Richard: Julie, it’s been a busy season for you! Does it ever slow down?
Julie Mannion: No. Actually, right now it’s literally back to back, but in a good way! I mean, I have fantastic projects, so we can’t complain. The good news and the bad news is, we’re busy.
Kenneth Richard: So, let’s talk about that busyness. What’s going on with the runway show production these days?
Julie Mannion: It’s a pivotal time, and I think everyone’s trying to figure out what works for them. There’s no right, and there’s no wrong. It’s been difficult for everybody in the business.
Kenneth Richard: When they think of success, what do they think of?
Julie Mannion: They’re thinking about what statement they are trying to make, and what’s going to define them. It’s a very different time, and so you have to think along the lines of, “What do I stand for? What do I want to put out there?”
With all the media available, there are countless ways you can be seen and so many different interpretations of it. You’re going to get people immediately interpreting it, each with their own view, so you want to make sure that what you put out there is something that resonates.
Kenneth Richard: What is it that you get excited about?
Julie Mannion: I love my field, and I love working with the designers. I have the privilege of working across the board and don’t care whether that’s somebody who’s just starting off or a big brand. Each of them has different complexities and needs.
What I personally get out of it is that I love helping people. I love to find a solution for somebody. I love having a client come to me and say, “This is my dream,” or “This is what I hope to accomplish.” Helping them find a path that works for them, that aligns with their integrity, and that speaks to their vision is something I love to do. It’s like putting together a puzzle. It’s just finding that point and being able to work with all the talented people that I work for and with. It’s a privilege.
Kenneth Richard: Are they giving you enough time to play with the puzzle pieces?
Time is definitely getting compressed. Without a doubt, you get less and less time, you have to think faster, and come up with solutions. The more you do it, the more you get used to working under those conditions, but they can be grueling. Coming to it with maturity and experience while approaching it with a calm point of view is helpful.
Kenneth Richard:Plus, KCD has the added benefit of having the other arm of PR beyond show production.
Julie Mannion: As a company, I think one of our strongest assets is that we have that duality. Whether it’s the PR or the production side of the business, they really do complement each other; you really learn, and so does everybody who works with us because it is in the DNA of our company. We are first and foremost a service company, and so our clients are serviced on both sides, and you have to love it because you have to love to do service.
Kenneth Richard: It’s funny how few people actually use the word ‘service’ these days.
Julie Mannion: We service our clients, journalists, and editors on the PR side, we service our clients and additionally our vendors on the production side because they are our lifeline. We all have to work together. It’s about building a team, and you are only as good as your team. A big part of being a producer is getting everybody motivated behind the same cause at the same time towards the same goal.
Ed (Filipowski) and I have been together for so many years. We’ve grown together, and we have this incredible team of people. We’re fortunate that many people have been with us for fifteen, twenty years. As a company, it really is about the people you work with. You want to build your team, build consistency, and all grow together. We’re a small family in that way. Everybody has different strengths, goals, and hopes. And you speak to that and say, “You’re good at this,” and “You like that.” It’s a win-win for everybody.
Kenneth Richard: How has public relations evolved over the last couple of years?
Julie Mannion: Well, because of digital, it’s just become stronger and stronger. It’s really taken over, and it has a whole new outlook. It’s very strategic and out front now. We spend a lot of time defining what needs to be put in the forefront, clarifying what is important, or the approach to be meaningful. It’s very strategic today.
Kenneth Richard: What makes for a good public relations agency relationship?
Julie Mannion: It really does boil down to communication. I think that the key to a good client relationship is really listening to what their needs are. And as you said, I think we’re at a place where we have the necessary experience, insight, depth, and global knowledge. We have enough perspective to say, “This is where you are, and this is the time frame to get where you need to go.”
Kenneth Richard: I was surprised to find how much your firm is involved in data and analytics.
Julie Mannion: It was something that Ed and Rachna (Shah) were very involved from the onset. I remember when I first started at work, low on the totem pole, with packed and unpacked trunks. I challenged myself to define a trend. It got to be a mental game. You can either look at it as a mundane chore to pack and unpack, or you can look to see, what is this process potentially showing me? I would think, “What made that editor choose that?” and “If we put all these pieces together, what is it telling me?” If you have that curiosity, then it can become interesting, and behind it is smart information.
Kenneth Richard: Speaks to curiosity as a driver.
Julie Mannion: It’s true. I find that when I work with new designers or people within our own company that I’m interested in people’s motivations, drive, and flexibility in thinking. I’m interested in what their vision is and what they want to achieve, and I’m interested in where the industry is going.
I happen to be very passionate about New York fashion and our community, and I take great pride in it. It’s going through a bit of a difficult time right now. Because I’m curious, I like to ask myself, “What do they think?” or “What is going to be helpful to them?” Sometimes it’s a time slot, or where they’re showing, or how they’re showing, or all of above.
I’m really just trying to piece that puzzle together to see how can we make this work. I get frustrated when people are slandering and say, “New York is not happening right now.” I absolutely don’t agree. New York is always going to be an exciting place. It has so much to offer in terms of diversity and newness. Everything goes through evolution. That’s life.
Kenneth Richard: What do you say to those detractors who are kicking New York Fashion Week?
Julie Mannion: First of all, I think if somebody wants to show, I think they have the right to do so. If someone’s going to invest their time, their energy, and their money to do it, you have to believe that they’re doing it for a purpose. If you don’t choose to go or if it doesn’t work for you to go, then don’t go. Nonetheless, I do think New York has a lot of talent, and I think we need to really invest in what we have.
Kenneth Richard: Is the stage big enough for New York talent to be globally successful?
Julie Mannion: I think so.
Kenneth Richard: Why?
Julie Mannion: The stage is big enough, and I think that the American market offers opportunity. I do think a lot of people are looking for creativity and quality. I believe it’s something that the American market can learn from in the European market, craftsmanship. Having the craftsmanship to build something and to really care and evolve their brand is important.
Kenneth Richard: Well, the craftsmanship is certainly there in terms of your staging and production. Appreciate you taking the time to come by and chat. Thank you.
Julie Mannion: You’re so welcome. Thank you for having me.
Portrait Photo | Mark Seliger for The Impression 250
Show Photos from Top | Tommy Hilfiger, Coach, Coach, Versace, Tommy Hilfiger
Miu Miu has embraced the spirit of consumption with their most recent holiday advert directed by Gordon von Steiner entitled ‘Miu Miu More.’
The film, set to 70s disco hit ‘More, More, More‘ by Andrea True Connection, opens with Elle Fanning fawning over a metallic stiletto, drifting into a daydream to pronounce “More.” What follows is a disco parade of holiday giftables accompanied by models Eniola Abioro, Olivia Anakwa, Olivia Forte, Lucan Gillespie and Oumie Jammeh. Fanning periodically chimes in to pronounce “More” as if she is a disciple of Veruca Salt. The piece feels enamored by product, and out of tune with the times.
This film, and the last several campaigns created by Katie Grand, are strong examples of style over substance with product at the core and little narrative around them. Style the house has in spades, meaning beyond that of consumption, not so much.
The vision of Katie Grand & Gordon von Steiner is wonderful, but it differs from that of a creative agency who understands how to embed brand equity via storytelling rather than simply make strong catalog-like narratives. That same skill set may have raised their hand in this pitch meeting about a holiday film that celebrates nothing ‘more’ than consumption. And taken a cue from the name of the songs creator, to figure out how to make a true connection. Because ‘more’ can mean a lot of things while still moving a lot of things.
Director | Gordon von Steiner
Talent | Elle Fanning
Model | Eniola Abioro, Olivia Anakwa, Olivia Forte, Lucan Gillespie and Oumie Jammeh.
Music | ‘More, More, More‘ by Andrea True Connection
Clearly 2018 was the year of Gucci as the house owned the lead in fashion digital storytelling. So it should come as no surprise that to ring in the new year Gucci has launched a jammed packed holiday campaign and film that also ties into a bevy of new features for the Gucci App.
The campaign is centered around a film by Petra Collins featuring a diverse cast counting down to midnight to see in the New Year. Cher’s 1979 Take Me Home provides the boogy-to-the-woogy in a party filled with balloons, champagne, and plenty of glitter. The campaign was lensed at Le Roi, a cinema and dance hall in Turin (also known as the Sala da Ballo Lutrario – the Lutrario Ballroom), which opened in 1926 and the interior of which was redesigned by the Italian architect, designer and photographer Carlo Mollino in the 60’s. It is a festive narrative mash up of an 80’s John Hughes film with an ABBA video.
To augment the campaign the digital team has amped the Gucci App with exclusive interactive contents to engage customers and promote the spirit of gifting. A special Gucci Gift Box will reveals different virtual presents every day by shaking the mobile devices. Like an advent calendar, users will be able to discover different contents day-by-day and then purchase the products through the website. A further section of the App gives users illustrated photobooth stickers of party paraphernalia – balloons, champagne glasses, hats, horns – as well as some Gucci accessories like bags and shoes, which they can apply to messages. Plus there is a large variety of seasonal smartphone wallpapers for users to decorate their devices.
That is a lot of digital, but then again, what can one expect from the leaders of digital for 2018 other than to be excited for what awaits in the new year.
Gucci Creative Director | Alessandro Michele
Agency | Simmonds ltd.
Creative Director | Christopher Simmonds
Photographer & Director | Petra Collins
Models | Alexandra Kasperovich,Edwina Preston, Eliia Sopia Coggins, Julia Huang, Amelleah Thomas, Haytal Blackwood, Eli Beidy Martinez, Tex Santos Shaw, William Valente, Dwight Hoogendijk, Matisse Rucko, Ryley Cole, Tom Atton Moore, Fisher Smith, Zeno Gorgels, Aaron Sirainen, & Thiam Tamsirr
Stylist | Jonathan Kaye
Hair | Alex Brownsell
Makeup | Niamh Quinn
Street Casting | “Extras”: Midland
Music | “Take Me Home” by Cher | (B. Esty / M. Aller)| © Rightsong Music Inc. | Su licenza di Warner Bros. Music Italy S.r.l. | (p) 1979 Universal Music Italia Srl
Location | Le Roi di Toni Campa & Luciana De Biase
“I sell gasoline. I make a small profit. With that I buy groceries. The grocer makes a profit. We call it earning a living. You may have heard of it.” – Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) Out Of The Past (1947)
Black Friday gets a whole lot darker in online retailer ‘& Other Stories’ Film Noir inspired ad campaign designed showcase their Black Friday offerings.
Taking a cue from nail biting suspense the retailed teamed up with photographer Peter Gehrke to create a black and white homage to the kitty dark side of cinema, Film Noir. Model Lila Cardona channeled her inner femme fatale by wearing the & Other Stories collection in a classic Hollywood style.
The campaign is smart not simply for their wink at the Black in Friday, but because the retailer, whose mantra is ‘Create Your Own Fashion Story,’ is doing just that for the holiday. Black Friday is black for a reason and it is surprising to the team at The Impression that more retailers don’t leverage the power of the digital era to do more narrative for what is the biggest shopping day of the year. Online retailers get the added benefit of the following Cyber Monday to boot, and that name alone is worth a short sci-fi series.
Photographer | Peter Gehrke
Model | Lila Cardona
Colovos Pre-Spring 2019 Collection
Chanel is a house that understands both the power of their heritage, the arts, and scale, leveraging all in thier recently revamped flagship store on 57th Street in New York City.
The store, originally built in 1996 and the largest in the U.S. at 14,000 square feet, has been reconcepted by long time retail collaborator Peter Marino. Sixteen panels of white striated glass placed in a black metal grid replaced the front façade. A 60-foot sculpture of a pearl necklace in stainless steel and glass beads by the French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel drips down the central staircase to greet guest at the entrance.
Works by Robert Mapplethorpe, Jenny Holzer, Peter Dayton, and 21 other artist are situated throughout the 5 floors complete with hand-applied matte wall finishes; handwoven tweed textiles; hammered brass railings and gold leaf and crackled lacquers.
The store is opened just ahead of Chanel’s forthcoming December 4 Métiers d’Art show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
15 E 57th St.
New York, NY 10022
Rodarte is the subject of a new exhibit at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, marking as the first fashion exhibit organized by NMWA.
The retrospective, which is currently on view through February 10, 2019, is a celebration of Kate and Laura Mulleavy work for their label. Ninety complete looks from Rodarte’s 13 years in business highlight the sisters’ artistic and theatrical vision that spans beyond fashion and into the contemporary art world, and explore greater concepts like modern femininity and the human condition.
Jill D’Alessandro, curator in charge of costume and textile arts, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, guest curated Rodarte, with support from Virginia Treanor, associate curator, NMWA, and Rafael de Cárdenas/Architecture at Large, which designed the exhibit’s interior.
“Rodarte burst onto the scene in 2005, taking the fashion and art worlds by surprise with their deeply personal and conceptual approach to fashion design,” said D’Alessandro.
“The exhibition celebrates the Mulleavys’ pioneering approach and explores their use of narrative to convey complex thoughts on a wide range of subjects, including film, literature, art history, nature and the California landscape.”
This is not the first solo exhibition for Rodarte. The American luxury fashion house held its first solo exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum in 2010, kicking off several shows for the label. Many of Rodarte’s ensembles have been showcased at and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and are in permanent collections at the Costume Institute, the Boston Museum of Fine Art, the Museum at FIT, and LACMA.
Rodarte at NMWA is special for the sisters for they are the first designers to be honored by the museum.
In addition hosting Rodarte, NMWA is offering a limited-edition collaboration collection by the Mulleavys, artist Jess Rotter and design firm Third Drawer Down. The collection is available at the NMWA shop and on its website.
As a champion of creative talents for over three decades, Camilla Lowther has the wisdom and knowhow to navigate the dynamic waters of fashion image creativity. Managing careers of celebrated photographers, stylist, set designers, casting directors, hair, makeup and other image makers, the founder of London and New York based CLM has earned a reputation of trust and fairness across the industry. The Impression’s Kenneth Richard sat with the ever-curious creative champion to learn about her journey, adapting to change, and how she navigates todays uncharted waters.
Kenneth Richard: Camilla, lovely to see you and connect to hear about your journey, how did you start?Camilla Lowther: I wanted to become an actress, and when that didn’t happen, I worked a bit for Laura Ashley back when she was cool. Nick Ashley was my best friend and creative director for Laura, and Jane Ashley was the photographer. I was her assistant. Along the way, I met Annette Worsley-Taylor in London, who was head of the London Designer Collections, which later became the British Fashion Council. This was the late seventies, early eighties. I worked for her as a PA and then left to work with Lindy Woodhead, who was one of the leading fashion PR’s in London at the time. While working for Lindy, I became friends with a photographer’s assistant who worked on bridal catalogues. As I was very good at ironing, I helped with the ironing of wedding dresses! The photographer assistant became a big name, Perry Ogden, and I left to work for him.
Kenneth Richard: What did you do?
Camilla Lowther: I did everything. I was his in-house agent, studio manager, I did his books, the cooking, swept the studio, I helped with the sets, and the ironing of course. I traveled with him, etc. In 1984 it was very Mad Men. It was all about advertising, cigarettes, and alcohol. It was very much a man’s world.
Most agents at that time had a fashion photographer, a photographer that did cigarettes, a travel photographer, a still-life photographer, an alcohol photographer, etc. Specialist fashion photography agencies did not exist. Perry ended up leaving to live in New York and joined Art + Commerce with Jimmy Moffat. At the same time, Jimmy Moffat and Anne Kennedy had just started Art + Commerce and that left me in England with time on my hands even though I still looked after Perry for Europe. People began to ring me up, and said things like, “You’ve done a really good job for Perry, could you do that for me?” That’s how it started.
Kenneth Richard: So, you started with Perry and then a couple of other people?
Camilla Lowther: Yes, Sarajane Hoare. Stylists weren’t big like they are now. Most stylists belonged to something, like a magazine or newspaper. There weren’t such things as freelance stylists. They didn’t carry the enormous power that they have today.
It was more creative back then because we had more time to be creative, and there wasn’t so much at stake (or so it seemed). We also had more time, so much more time. We weren’t really concerned about making money. As long as I had enough money to pay rent and eat, I wasn’t thinking, I’m gonna build a big company and sell it. It never occurred to me.
The thing that made us money at that time was music. That’s how I survived the eighties, off album covers. There was The Rolling Stones, Simply Red, Wet Wet Wet, Lenny Kravitz, Sade, Boy George, etc. Change really came in the 1990’s. Grunge was the big change at the time. I was repping Corinne Day, and she got the Barneys’ campaign with Ronnie Cooke Newhouse. Ronnie then left to work for Calvin Klein. Everything from then on exploded. All the photographers who I knew as assistants─ Glen Luchford, David Sims, Mario Sorrenti─ suddenly rose. The young gave the old a run for their money, and they should. They were exciting times.
Kenneth Richard: You’ve seen an evolution that is parallel to today. Why is it so similar?
Camilla Lowther: Now, the new young are swooping in and rising to the top. It’s their time, I suppose. A lot of the clients are young, and the art directors are young, and they don’t want to work with somebody that really makes them tick. They want to hang with their peers. They don’t want to be in a studio or go on a trip with a load of people who want to leave at five. Maybe they want to shoot until 3:00am, or hang out. It’s the nature of the beast.
Kenneth Richard: And here I thought we were hanging until 3:00am, which upon meeting your husband and friends here today, confident you could do. So, what makes for a good client-agent relationship?
Camilla Lowther: That’s a tough question. I don’t necessarily interface with clients directly. I might interface with the creative director or the agency. However, I think respect. I respect them, they respect me, and they respect the people I look after. I think that’s what’s important. At the end of the day, I’m a salesperson. My job is to open doors and show them the work. It’s about the artist, not me. If they don’t like the artist, I would hope they’d have enough respect for me to tell me they don’t like the artist work.
Kenneth Richard: So inverse, what makes for a good client-artist relationship?
Camilla Lowther: Again, I think its respect for what they do. If you’re asking a photographer or a stylist to do a job, then you have to respect their taste and their opinion. Trust too. Any good, long-standing relationship is built off trust. I don’t take it personally when someone chooses not to use my photographer, and it doesn’t mean I’m not their friend. I’ve been doing this for 35 years, and a lot of the people I know, I’ve known for many years. I’d hope they’d respect the people I represent. In turn, I respect what they do. Sometimes, people don’t have a job for you for a long time, but I still go see them and show them things.
Kenneth Richard: Other than talent, what makes a great artist?
Camilla Lowther: Manners, especially now. It’s been a bit out of whack for too long a time. You can’t be a bully. You’ve got to say, “Please,” and, “Thank you.” Manners are free as well.
Kenneth Richard: Is the role the same today as it was five years ago?
Yes, it’s just harder. There’s so much and you’re having to manage costs, because there’s less money. There are so many deliverables now. The money has to go to so many different places. The demands are greater because you’ve got social media to consider. And there’s much competition. Everybody thinks they’re a photographer, and I don’t think they are.
There’s also a lot of stylists out there. I’m not saying there’s not a lot of good stylists or photographers, but there are a lot of them!
Kenneth Richard: Why is there no time?
Camilla Lowther: I would like to know the answer to that question.
Kenneth Richard: Perhaps because brands have turned into content publishers with digital narrative that requires volume. And they like to work with the same people, so as their needs have gone up, your talents time has been sucked up. If they played the field, you and your talent would have more time. But they don’t because they need that trust.
Camilla Lowther: I understand because that’s about trust, respect, and there’s a lot of money at stake.
I was talking to another creative director, who said he was on set the other day, and there were 130 people doing many different things. Nowadays, you have one day to do everything; stills, film, and social. You may even be interviewing everybody to see what they think about the shoot. The photographer has to be able to orchestrate all of that. That’s an awful lot to ask of anybody. Think of how much money is at stake – and the client can’t afford mistakes.
Kenneth Richard: Where do you think things are going?
Camilla Lowther: Moving images is interesting, but it needs to tell a story, and some photographers don’t know how to do that. I don’t know what’s going to happen to magazines, but I personally think that everybody still loves them. Maybe this generation isn’t looking at magazines the way you and I used to look at magazines, but I still think that they like to look at beautiful imagery, and they like to touch them. Maybe magazines need to think about only coming in twice or four times a year and be very luxurious. I know Adwoa keeps the really beautiful magazines. I know some of the other kids I’ve talked to do as well. Maybe some of the disposable magazines need to think about turning their magazine into something beautiful, luxurious, and of a fantasy. We just need to dream…
I love the dream. I love the end product. I love the people. I wouldn’t still be here if I didn’t. I love being a part of a team and seeing the finished product. You see the brochure, or the advertising campaign, or the film, and you think, God, I was part of that? I still get a kick from that.
Kenneth Richard: And we get a kick from you. Thank you so much, Camilla.
Camilla Lowther: Thank you very much.
Portrait Photo | Aitken Jolly
Photo | Tim Walker
Photo | Jurgen Teller
Photo | Josh Olins
Photo | Ben Weller
Photographer Linda Böse teams with Stylist Marcella Verweyen in an online exclusive shoot for The Impression – Valentine
Photographer/Art Director | Linda Böse
Stylist | Marcella Verweyen
Photographer/Art Director | Linda Böse
Stylist | Marcella Verweyen @t Kult Artis
Model | Lea @Model Management Hamburg
Hair & Makeup | Marco Alecci @Ballsaal Artist Management
The Impression believes in supporting talent, be it new or established, and is open to editorial proposals for our online magazine at submissions.
Quality vs. Quantity is an age-old conundrum of the creative arts, and though they are both great strategies, one must decide which one agrees with their beliefs. Jae Choi, the founder of multi-disciplinary agency, TheCollectiveShift, chooses quality over quantity for many reasons, including her experiences as an agent’s assistant at Art + Commerce and later as a leader of a division at the agency. Since founding TheCollectiveShift in 2008, the agency represented photographers John Clang, Nan Goldin, and Tommy Ton among other talents. Obi Anyanwu of The Impression sat with Choi to discuss her career beginnings, the agent-talent relationship, and why she prefers quality to quantity.
Obi Anyanwu: How did you get to start in this business?
Jae Choi: I didn’t really know about the representation side of the business. In my 20s, I worked for Arnell Bickford, founded by Peter Arnell and Ted Bickford, at a period of time when SoHo was extremely glamorous. I left to wait tables after a short period of time there, but my previous co-workers at Arnell that went to Art + Commerce recommended me to be an agent’s assistant. I didn’t really know that much about them, but I got hired right away at the recommendation.
Obi Anyanwu: Nice, and what was Art + Commerce like?
Jae Choi: I was at Art + Commerce for 12 years. I was lucky to have the opportunity to go from an assistant to an agent of my own division because that didn’t really happen at all. During my later years at Art + Commerce, other agencies were coming up, and I felt it was time for me to go out on my own. That’s when I opened TheCollectiveShift.
Obi Anyanwu: How was the learning curve from working at one of the majors to starting your own?
Jae Choi: Of course, I didn’t have the same kind of support, back-end systems, and financial accounting, but those are challenges that all business owners go through. In terms of transitioning, I didn’t experience much out of the ordinary because I had so much autonomy and had participated with the partners in the management of the company towards the end of my time there.
Obi Anyanwu: Let’s talk about the financial side of things. Did you have to take on clients in order to hit your goals?
Jae Choi: This will sound extremely naïve, but the financial side never led me. TheCollectiveShift could have been a company with 50 artists and many offices, but that’s not what I wanted. Of course, when you’re running a business, you are looking at the bottom line, but I was lucky to have choices where I didn’t have to take on every client to make money. I didn’t want to make money at the risk of doing things that I didn’t believe in.
Obi Anyanwu: What makes a good partnership between an agent and talent?
Jae Choi: I think it depends on what an artist wants in their career. TheCollectiveShift is fairly simple in that we always look for certain artistry. We want someone who is unique or has a recognizable stamp. We respond to that first and foremost. Then, of course, you have to be a nice person. We don’t want to work with a jerk. I mean, we’ve done it, but we don’t want to do it anymore.
Obi Anyanwu: I don’t think we’ve heard that enough. Nobody wants to work with a jerk, why would you?
Jae Choi: I think it’s a double-edged sword in some ways. As an agent, your job is to get things and make things happen for the talent. And sometimes by the sheer fact of you doing your job well, you could create a monster. Where’s the fine line?
You have to be able to bring different points of view. I’m not the agent that says yes to all of my talent. It’s not always about agreeing because sometimes, a new point of view comes with friction. You want things to be harmonious, but harmonious doesn’t necessarily mean saying yes to everything either. I am outspoken, and will always give my point of view. We can discuss it and come to an approach, together or not, but at least they know I advise in a certain way. If they choose not to follow it, then that’s their prerogative.
At the end of the day, you’re all working toward the same goal. You may not have the same strategy to get there, but you’re working together.
Obi Anyanwu: How has social media and improved technology impacted your career and finding talent?
With technology being more affordable now than ever, everyone is a photographer. Because of that, unfortunately, part of the artistry, creative, and craft has diminished. That’s where the industry is different. Before, there was more respect for someone’s point of view and vision, and how to translate their particular vision for that brand. I don’t think that’s part of the conversation right now.
Obi Anyanwu: And is that OK?
Jae Choi: Not to me. It’s all, in a way, dominated by the press and events to keep people interested. But then what? Does it actually turn into something?
By feeding this constant need for new material, does that actually generate the results? How does your brand stand out in the sea of all those images? How is the consumer supposed to know what one brand is versus another, and why should they be attracted to one brand? You have some sort of experiential thing happening at the store? Great, but how does that tie me to you as a consumer?
Obi Anyanwu: Are these the types of conversations that agents have with brands?
Jae Choi: I don’t know if other agents do. I have some brands and people that I talk to.
It’s a bit different when you’re working with someone like Nan Goldin. You have to allow her to create an environment in which she can feel connected, whereas, it’s a whole different thing for a commercial photographer.
To succeed as a photographer now, unfortunately, it’s about how many Instagram followers you have. Of course, that’s first and foremost a question for the models and people in front of the camera, but even the people behind the camera get affected by that.
It’s a difficult landscape to navigate because you’re also talking about a place where everyone has a hyphen in their title.
Being a brand was not really a part of the conversation five to ten years ago. You did your work and you made your stamp. A lot of the people that I’ve been privileged to work with, like the late David Armstong, had that stamp.
Obi Anyanwu: For anyone that aspires to be an agent, what is some advice that you would give them?
Jae Choi: I think that depends on the type of agent you want to be. There are people who want to be agents because they love deal making. I think you have to care about people. You have to care about creating the work, art, imagery, and care for the image-maker, whether it’s an illustrator, makeup artist, lighting, or a stylist. These are all part of image making. Without it, the magic does not happen. You have to be obsessed with that, you have to love it, and you have to want to make things happen.
Sadly, today, quantity overshadows the quality. I came up during a magic period in the business. When I started at Art + Commerce, I was assisting Becky Lewis who represented Glenn Luchford. Glenn was shooting the Prada campaigns and had the luxury of being able to go on location and the time and space to create beautiful imagery. His iconic images still stand the test of time because creativity was allowed to happen. There was this emotional attachment. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I look at a lot of ads and feel the same way. It just feels a lot like just getting the job done.
Obi Anyanwu:Do you see any opportunity in choosing quantity over quality?
Jae Choi: Not for me. My mantra would never be quantity over quality, but that’s a personal choice. I wish I could say that the agents working now have all of the advantages, but I’m not sure that they do. I think if anything, you have to work harder.
People consume media differently now, and how people connect is different. If you can zone in on that and figure out how to bring more value to that, then great, but right now, everyone’s talking at you. There is no dialogue, only snippets. You post something, and someone says, “I don’t like that.” Opinions informed by just one image and not the whole history. There is no tool to comment on an entire history, just a single image. Even if you have quantity, which everyone does now, how are you using it to engage dialogue on the whole? Today, we have everyone consuming within a short span of space and even a shorter attention span.
Obi Anyanwu: We’ll keep sharing the whole of the story for everyone to discuss.
Jae Choi: Thank you.
Portrait Photo | Mark Seliger for The Impression 250
Photo | Nan Goldin
Photo | Chloe Le Drezen
Photo | Katja Rahlwes
Photo | Katja Rahlwes
The Impression’s Best Social Fashion Ad Campaigns of Fall 2018
The Impression’s Chief Impressionist, Kenneth Richard, and The Impression team select the best social ad campaigns of the fall 2018 season. Campaigns driven and developed either from social or with social as the key driver.
While many a design house has looked to jump the media gate keepers via distributing their campaign solely on their own network (namely instagram), The Impression looks at the medium differently. Specifically we look at campaigns that were concepted for social as a way to tell the story.
Gucci’s The Art of Beauty campaign leveraged social as a means to address beauty academically, retaining historians to write and educate about the standards of beauty as shown through art of the ages. Burberry took to Instagram to share their new monogram, amping up out-of-home to share what traditionally would of only been seen from casual by-passers. Digital was as important a media outlet as that of the regional locations.
Gap was inspired by social connectivity, building an entire campaign from the digital sentiment of others. Fendi launched an entire collection based on a artist Hey Reilly’s works that came to light via Instagram, while Hedi Slimane at Celine took the most traditional approach, close to jumping media, but designed to be an ever evolving series.
All leveraged digital in their own unique ways and tailored the offering specifically to the medium.
Celine Creative Director/ Photographer | Hedi Slimane
Models | Bente Oort, Evelyn Nagy, Isabel Jones, Jakob Eilinghoff, Kaila Wyatt, Liv Sillinger, & Thialda Bok
Hair | Esther Langham
Makeup | Aaron de Mey
Agency | Yard NYC
Co-Founder/Chief Creative Officer | Stephen Niedzwiecki
Co-Founder / Chief Executive Officer | Ruth Bernstein
Talent | Kyle, Madame Gandhi, Kimberly Drew, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, King Princess, Notoriously Dapper, Topher Brophy, Noor Tagouri, Alejandro Chal, Carlotta Kohl, Ezinma, & Chella Man
Executive Director Strategy & Digital Innovation | James Denman
Executive Creative Director | Matthew Jerrett
Creative Director | Michael Bird
Art Directors | Sofia Glimnell & Steven Williams
Copywriter | Kira Pack
Jr. Copywriter | Leah Keiter
Acct. Supervisor | Bobby Bush
Project Manager | Lucie Hajian
Head of Production | Kirsten Arongino
Sr. Producers | Molly Dowd & Jane Minehan
Production Coordinator | Katrina Allick
The house of Dior is embracing a bit of holiday magic this season launching a pop-up located at 400 W. 14th Street, in NY’s the Meatpacking district.
Central to the decor is are 3D sculptures that “roam” the space made of the houses Toile de Jouy motif. The 18th century French print, which from 1947 adorned the walls of Monsieur Dior’s first boutique at 30 Avenue Montaigne in Paris, was a key theme from Artistic Director Maria Grazia Chiuri’s women’s Cruise 2019 collection. Here it is modernized with the addition of unexpected animals – such as, tigers, bears and giraffes.
The pop-up will rotate its collections at the end of November, starting with a special women’s beach-themed capsule, and eventually introducing the first capsule collection designed by Men’s Artistic Director Kim Jones, with special items commissioned by the artist KAWS.
Also introduced at the pop-up is the exclusive personalization service, ABCDior, that provides clients the ability to embroider their name onto the coveted Dior Book Tote. Within North America, this personalization service will be first offered exclusively at the Meatpacking pop-up boutique for a two-week period from November 10th-21st, and will then travel to the Dior 57th Street flagship location from December 4th-13th.
Leave it to Riccardo Tisci and the team at Burberry to throw tradition out the window as they present this season’s most adult, artistic, and dare we say isolationist Christmas campaign of the decade.
The campaign entitled Close Your Eyes and Think of Christmas is the brainchild of British artist Juno Calypso whose work often touches upon themes of loneliness, isolation, self sufficiency and feminism. Calypso started showing her work in 2011 and typically cast herself as the central character named ‘Joyce’ (here with red hair in the dinner) who is set in a surreal underground world.
The Burberry campaign starts (and ends) with a nod to nature’s embrace as the camera pulls out from a wooded, snow frosted scene, that the viewer discovered is simply a television screen in a café frequented by starts M.I.A. and Matt Smith. Smith tosses aside the daily paper, as if he found it disturbing, while M.I.A. stirs her tea. There is no eye contact or engagement between their characters, same for the rest of the cast.
The loneliness of the holiday season is played up most in brief scene featuring actress Kristin Scott Thomas, alone with her thoughts in a speeding train carriage, seats upholstered in the new Peter Saville-imagined house logo print. A quick flash shows that there are indeed fellow commuters, however, the character may as well be alone for the holidays.
While the release speaks ‘to family togetherness, delayed trains and Christmas feasts,’ the characters are like those in an Edward Hopper painting, distant and alone even while with others. With the exception of Naomi Campbell, who rest her head on the lap of her mother Valerie Morris-Campbell while watching telly, there is little human interaction.
The choice is unexpected as historically Christmas adverts are about unity, a shared celebration between family and close friends. Why Tisci and Burberry headed in the other direction is up for speculation. The Impression believes the intent was not to spread more emptiness into the world, but to unit us in understanding, that this feeling is normal, adult, and in a way unifying. With this stance Burberry is aligning with the outliers, those with a different point of view and perhaps wisdom. The wisdom to Close Your Eyes and Think of Christmas, a Christmas of understanding that they belong to a specific tribe and are ok with that.
Director/Photographer | Juno Calypso
Talent | Kristin Scott Thomas, M.I.A., Matt Smith, Naomi Campbell, Valerie Morris-Campbell
In celebration of the holidays, Banana Republic has projected a Nordic–inspired campaign that enchantingly evokes the magic of the season. Directed by Stephanie Di Giusto and produced by Charlotte Lepot, the campaign imagery and accompanying film features models Geron McKinley, Heather Kemesky and Vanessa Moody, as well as dancer Nathan Mitchell.
The campaign maintains locations in the scenic landscapes of Iceland, specifically the volcanic island of Dyrhólaey and its famous arched rock, the crags and caves of Hjörleifshöfði, and finally the country’s coastal capital of Reykjavik. Through the campaign’s feature of enchanting adventure-proof apparel is the representation of the brand’s pillars of quality, comfort and versatility.
The campaign further maintains a rather somber aesthetic, which notably serves as a distinct contrast to the remarkably joyful message it embodies.
The entirety of the campaign—specifically that of the accompanying fashion film—maintains an underlying focus on the magic of coming together, alluding to the joy that the holiday season brings. The famed arched rock serves as the whimsical symbol of bringing loved ones together for the holidays.
Director | Stephanie Di Giusto
Producer | Charlotte Lepot
Dancer | Nathan Mitchell
Models | Geron McKinley, Heather Kemesky, Vanessa Moody
Although the 85-year-old German-born, Paris-based designer has held the role of grand master of Chanel for thirty-five years and running, Creative Director Karl Lagerfeld still makes sure to consistently pay homage to the maison’s iconic founder, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel.
Chanel’s Cruise ’19 collection , shown in May at the Grand Palais in Paris, drew inspiration from Coco’s experiences in the South of France. Specifically photos capturing Coco on board the Flying Cloud, the yacht owned by the Duke of Westminster, —Chanel’s lover in the 1920s—Lagerfeld designed a series of tweed minidresses and accompanying nautical-inspired looks for the collection.
The show consisted of models dressed in a series of vintage-inspired Mary Janes reminiscent of the white and two-tone pairs that Chanel famously wore as staple pieces during her life. Maintaining features of white or metallic silver, the footwear features softly curved heels, rounded toecaps and covered-leather buttons situated across the single and double straps.
This is by no means the first time we’ve seen Chanel’s signature Mary Janes showcased on the runway. However, this time Lagerfeld notably focused in on the designer’s personal leisure life to create quite literally a “cruise” collection. Inside the Grand Palais models walked about a massive cruise ship, named “La Pausa” fittingly after the villa that the Duke of Westminister built for Chanel in the South of France.
To commensurate the their cruise footwear the house created a video dedicated to the Mary Jane footwear set of course on a cruise boat.
In reaction to the background music of Doing Me by Ray Blk, Chanel’s Cruise Mary Jane 2018 film undeniably alludes to Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s early life in the South of France as well as her focus on fashion as a form of self-expression.
Set on a boat similar to that depicted in the theme of the Cruise collection, the fashion film corresponds with the fashion house’s previous iconic ideas. To add, the models are styled in accordance to Coco’s chic style though their wearing of the classic single-strapped Mary Janes in white.
The models are depicted expressing themselves through the wearing of various outfits—all styled with their Mary Janes—as they engage in joyful behavior throughout.
The film embodies an underlying theme of self-expression through personal style, an idea distinctly associated with the creative visionary behind the iconic fashion house, Chanel herself.
Music | Doing Me by Ray Blk
Composer Lyricist | Gina Kushka
Composer Lyricist | Rita Ifiok Abasi Ekwere
A/C | Rita Ifiok Ekwere, Tom Havelock, Gina Kushkie, James John Napier
© BMG Rights Management France, Salli Isaak Songs Ltd / Downtown
Music Publishing | Sony ATV Music Publishing
Universal Music Publishing Master | Kobalt Music
Adidas Originals by Alexander Wang take to the outdoors in season 4 of their sports apparel and footwear collaboration.
To commensurate the occasion, the collaborators have once again brought in creative champion Ferdinando Verderi to concept a campaign around the line which drops on November 14th. Verderi, and his team at Johannes Leonardo, took a look at the ‘recontectualized’ collection and decided it was time for the line to take a hike, so they teamed with set designer Mary Howard to create a mock camping themed story. Photographer Brianna Capozzi captured model Anna Ewers lounging in oversized adidas Originals by Alexander Wang sleeping bags, tents, and coolers all produced from scraps of vintage previous adidas Originals by Alexander Wang collections.
Ewers even does her best ‘Scouts Honor’ poses complete with a neckerchief courtesy of stylist Haley Wollens and the showcases the collection with a bit of a wink.
Verderi and agency Johannes Leonardo have always had a bit of disruption to their work for the house. Especially when it comes to the releases which have included guerrilla events on sidewalks of NYC selling the wears as if they were stollen goods or delivering them from bike messengers as if one was getting a special delivery from a dealer. The Impression will stay tune to see that arises over the course of the week and keep you informed. Scouts Honor.
Agency | Johannes Leonardo
Creative Director | Ferdinando Verderi
Photographer | Brianna Capozzi
Model | Anna Ewers
Stylist | Haley Wollens
Set Designer | Mary Howard
Mark Seliger has built a reputation as an iconic photographer, with a career that spans over 30 years and includes over 200 covers for Rolling Stone, with portraits of Kurt Cobain, Angelina Jolie, Kendrick Lamar, Jennifer Lawrence, Bruce Springsteen, Jay-Z, The Rolling Stones, Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela and The Dalai Lama. The award-winning, Texas-born artist enjoys shooting for publications such as Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, GQ, Italian Vogue and L’Uomo Vogue, and documenting real life issues, which have been published in books such as On Christopher Street: Transgender Stories and When They Came to Take My Father – Voices from the Holocaust. The Impression’s Obi Anyanwu sat with Seliger to chat about his upbringing, Little League, the fray of a presidential press pool, and teaming with Franca Sozzani.
Obi Anyanwu: Looking forward to diving into your edit, but first, I’d like to hear about how you got your start. You were born in Amarillo, Texas and you later moved to Houston?
Mark Seliger: My father and his brother ran a family business that their father had started in Borger, Texas (near Amarillo), and when I was five years old, the business split up and my dad picked up the family and we moved to Houston. This was uncharted water for him: he basically rebooted his life when he was in his mid-40s with four small children. Once we were there, we went through what I would say was a fairly traditional suburban experience.
My recollections of growing up in Amarillo are probably a bit exaggerated, but I remember the pavement being too hot to walk on, so my brothers and I would go for hikes on the grass because we never wore shoes during the summer. Texas is a big state with the feel of a small town.
Obi Anyanwu: Texas, apple pie and baseball. Can you tell us about that Little League bet that you made with your brother?
Mark Seliger: One year I was having a bad season at batting, and my older brother Frank wanted to help. He told me if I could just get on base he would give me his camera – it was one of those old Diana cameras you could buy from the back of Popular Mechanics. I got up there ready to hit the ball, and the ball actually hit me, which means I got to walk to first base, and Frank gave me his camera.
Obi Anyanwu: And a focus on photography blossomed.
Mark Seliger: I went to the High School for Performing and Visual Arts, which my brother Frank also attended. Frank was in the drama department, and I tried to get into the art department but I wasn’t accepted, so he suggested that I go into an alternative program called Media Technology – photography was a part of that program.
At East Texas State University, my major was photography and design. My professor and mentor, James Newberry, taught photo documentary, and this is where I found the path I would take in portraiture.
Obi Anyanwu: Did that program and experience inform your style and direction, like for your book Rodeos & Diners?
Mark Seliger: Yes. Some of my earlier pictures in college were documentary focused. I was inspired by some of the FSA photographers like Walker Evans and other photographers that were not commercial at all.
Obi Anyanwu: Then the bright lights of the big city beckoned. How was your experience moving from Texas to New York City?
Mark Seliger: When I first got to New York City I lived with my brother in Brooklyn, and every morning I would jump on the subway and head into Manhattan and cold call photographers from a payphone. I assisted for maybe a year and a half.
My plan was to learn everything that I possibly could in six months to a year, then move back to Texas and start my own studio. But the moment I got here, I knew there was no going back.
Magazines were always the goal for me. I just loved the idea of being a published photographer. I started out working for Esquire– I never thought I would work for certain magazines that just seemed like a long shot– and I would take any job that I could while shooting for myself on the side. After my first year of shooting, I got a few small assignments from Rolling Stone,and at the end of my second year I got my first cover: Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I remember writing my editor a letter thanking her for the experience, and she sent me the first bound edition of the magazine with a note that said, ‘I look forward to many, many more.’ And since then we’ve shot almost two hundred covers together.
What I learned in moving to New York City from Texas is that editorial was really a gateway for me to be able to marry what I loved about documentary and fine art photography into a more applied art form.
Obi Anyanwu: Do you approach your portrait work in the same way that you approach your fashion editorials?
Mark Seliger: Absolutely. I always start with a concept that will drive where the shoot will go.
Typically I make a list of ideas that become a story or concept. Whether it’s the way I use a certain style, or utilize the location we’re shooting at, or play off the subject’s personality, or find an underlying theme in the fashion – how do I push those ideas forward. Even though a picture might be a fairly straight forward portrait, it still comes from a place of decisions, and then the photography is just the paintbrush.
When I started shooting for myself I really focused on editorial, and that led to working with Rolling Stone and later Vanity Fair and GQ. I worked exclusively for these magazines so I wasn’t participating in core fashion work, but once those contracts loosened up, I started doing projects that really allowed me to play in the fashion world.
I began working with Italian Vogueand L’Uomo Vogue, and I enjoyed that it was an extension of what I could bring to a photograph. Rather than the subject being the most important element, the fashion was just as key, if not more so. In addition, you have a fairly large piece of real estate to be able to tell a story and that really interested me.
Obi Anyanwu: Which shoot would you consider to be your most notable experiences?
Mark Seliger: One of the first big moments I had, which led to me becoming Chief Photographer for Rolling Stone, was their 25th anniversary issue. Rolling Stone hired six photographers to shoot a portfolio for this special issue—Herb Ritts, Bruce Weber, Matthew Rolston, Kurt Markus, Albert Watson and myself. I couldn’t believe that I was in that kind of company, I was the youngster at that time.
The portfolio was beautiful, it was a serious body of work for all of us. I remember getting a postcard from Albert Watson saying he thought my portfolio was the best one because of the humor and the color. It was pretty incredible to get that.
In 2007, Franca Sozzani hired me to shoot during Valentino’s 45th anniversary in Rome. There was a series of events over several days, and we built a set that we moved from the various locations like the Colosseum, his fashion show, fabulous dinner parties, to shoot portraits of the celebrities and European royalty in attendance.
Franca was very hands-on and was right there with us, bringing me subjects to shoot all night long. She was a totally unique and collaborative editor, like nobody I had ever worked with, and I feel very fortunate to have been able to shoot with her over the years.
Although I shot mostly large format film for this particular assignment, this became the precursor for the work I would eventually do for Instagram at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party each year.
I also photographed Barack Obama for GQ a few months before the election. He was on the campaign trail and I had to work as part of the press pool because he wasn’t going to give us a pre-assigned sitting, and the editor was depending on me to come back with a cover. I was fine with that, but I had no idea what a press pool was or what I was getting myself into.
I traveled with the press corps for two days and I wasn’t very pleased with what I was getting content wise. I explained to the press secretary that I could get a great cover if they could just give me a minute and a half. She held me to that and gave me exactly 90 seconds after his next rally outside of Philadelphia. We’d had to buy a white bed sheet and tape it up to a trailer as our backdrop, but we made the cover of GQ. That was pretty amazing.
I went on to photograph him several times after that, at the White House, and in Alaska during his climate change expedition.
Portrait Photo | John Kelsey
Photo | Mark Seliger for Harper’s Bazaar
Photo | Mark Seliger for Details
Photo | Mark Seliger for The Impression
Portrait Photos | Mark Seliger
Companies and brands have leaned on established and emerging artists to cut through advertising clutter with new ways to express their brand messaging. The strategy has proven to be a winner recently for the likes of Gucci, which turned to many artists for campaigns and capsule collections, and is a winning formula indirectly borrowed from past directors, including Marc Jacobs, who at Louis Vuitton helped make Takashi Murakami a mainstream name and collaborated on sneakers with Kanye West, which arguably spearheaded the high-fashion musician collaborations that we see today.
Many labels have their recurring artist partners, have access to several that would not pass up once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, or started initiatives to help artists through funding, but while artists are being commissioned to create, one must wonder if it’s all worth it if it’s all about commerce in the end? Isn’t art supposed to speak to our lives and emotions more than our wallets? How can it be used for a moment and forgotten by the next season? These ideas are a glimpse into what makes the Gentle Monster marketing strategy so unique.
The Korean eyewear label has art deeply ingrained in its DNA and relied on special projects, such as its Quantum Project, to differentiate its branding from competitors. What sets Gentle Monster apart is its approach to art projects.
“Art is always important and not just for the brand,” said Gentle Monster Chief Marketing Officer Taye Yun.
We are very critical and careful on how we relate to art. It is not right to associate ourselves to art if we are selling something in return. That’s why I usually say we are more of a theatrical company rather than an art company. People can see that we are doing art, but we tend to burn all of our works after shows, because we only borrow art’s precious element to curate emotions. We are looking in ways to provide more pure space for artist to experiment their artistic freedom and expression without any brand pressure.
The label recently used its former SoHo retail location on 79 Grand Street to serve as a “pure space” for mysterious artist Marzypansy as a farewell to the store. Gentle Monster preferred to host the installation, entitled The Visitor, at its former location to honor the Grand Street store architect, Rafael De Cardenas, who worked closely with the brand on the space instead of holding a store opening party for its new 70 Wooster Street store.
“As a person, who is sick of attending store opening myself, I noticed how people reacted much better to being at a non-crowded space rather than being served at an event, especially for Gentle Monster store,” said Yun.
“I wanted to take a much more experimental approach in celebrating the move with closing ceremony and to commemorate something special for Rafael before the demolition. I also wanted to curate an exhibition that explains conceptually what Gentle Monster understands better than any other retail business out there. The key is that we decide by our emotions and have the emotional trigger be poetically applied to our business practice with deep sincerity.”
Marzipansi, which is spelled several ways, transformed the location into a linear art space that included aluminum foil furniture, kinetic energy experiments, several mirrors reflecting two people attempting to express their love for the other on a poor phone connection, and several photos of a sunset all connected by a red line that spans from the entrance and around the space.
Music composed by John King and audio from an original script written by Jonathan Lethem provided narrative for the open-ended sensory experience that was open to interpretation by attendees. The project left more questions than answers, which allowed for open conversation. Little is known about the installation, except that the artist(s) traveled to Morocco to NASA’s testing site for part of the production and the audio from Lethem’s show was recorded at legendary New York City theater La Mama.
Yun added, “Through the Marzipanzy exhibition, we wanted to make clear that people are not only seeing the visual beauty of the store, but they they are witnessing Gentle Monster’s emotional curation at play in a Gentle Monster location.”
The 70 Wooster Street store, much like the label’s many global retail locations, is also an “emotional curation,” featuring abstract elements, kinetic sculptures and installations inspired by technology and a dystopian future all designed and manufactured by an in-house team of architects and interiors designers. The 6,000-square-foot store also sports a full-scale digital LED display and space exploration-themed objects on natural elements like wood and tree branches and artificial elements like sponge and fabric.
The change in store locations was very quiet if you were looking for pomp and circumstance. Gentle Monster traded in fanfare for meaningful experiences that gratified longtime supporters and enticed curious minds. Art was not used to sell a product, or even to promote the brand, which speaks to the label’s outlook on art itself.
“We do not wish to affiliate with art nor speak on art,” said Yun. “However, we appreciate and sincerely approach art with respect.”
The approach is unique and has been successful for Gentle Monster. The industry projects the label’s annual revenue to be $250 million, and they are expanding its retail footprint into Europe, having opened two stores in London in August.
Street style photographer, Vincenzo Grillo of IMAXtree, captured looks from New York, Milan, and Paris Fashion Weeks to bring you the best in Street Style of the season. The Impression asked the lensman for his favorite Street Style Looks from Fall 2018 Fashion Shows.
I love these pictures because I think they were the best looks from the last fashion week. Often you don’t need to wear the most expensive clothes. You only need to be yourself while wearing those clothes.