Review of Diesel ‘Pleasure Island’ Spring 2023 Ad Campaign by Art Director Christopher Simmonds and Photographer Johnny Dufort with models Z
Diesel brings us down a wormhole of debauchery and joie de vivre with its new campaign for Spring 2023. Led by the brand’s creative director Glenn Martens and his go-to collaborators, the campaign features art direction by Christopher Simmonds and photography by Johnny Dufort.
The film opens on a very jarring – but technically and conceptually very cool – shot from inside someone’s mouth as they make out with another person, tongues and teeth careening towards the camera. From here it’s a high-octane thrill ride through the neon-lit, sweat and saliva-drenched backrooms and dance floors of Pleasure Island, Diesel’s highly stylized and debauched adult amusement park where nothing is off limits and every indulgence is encouraged. With a club beat and heady, propulsive camera work that combines at an almost vertiginous clip more typical cinematography with grimy cell-phone footage and mind-bending effects, we see the eclectic cast of club characters indulge in every vice that straddles the line between glamorous and taboo: the expected casual sex and recreational drug use are of course present, but so are more subtle social commentaries on things like media consumption, mass-produced junk food, and the addictive modern obsession with fitness.
Dufort’s accompanying photographs combine spaces and characters from the film into lavishly arranged compositions that in their stillness give our oversaturated eyes more time to soak up all the devilish details – while also offering a clearer look at the hyper graphic and deconstructed denim details of the collection. In various states of dress, revelers take a break in the club lounge or jump into the indoor pool, while elsewhere interesting bedroom dynamics unfold. In one image, a model’s barely contained bazungas show clear evidence of photoshop, an intentional oversight that breaks the fourth wall and makes the viewer a co-conspirator in the brand’s playful parody of the overwrought fashion image and consumerist excess.
While the campaign is in a surface-level sense glamorizing a kind of hedonism which is ultimately self-destructive, it’s not like Diesel is saying that everyone who buys the brand should belong and want to be at its Pleasure Island (most of us would find it uncomfortable and overstimulating). Instead, it’s pushing fashion communication’s typical practice of moving the needle by pushing things to the extreme to the extreme. The result is a hyperbolic but ultimately uplifting and resonant celebration of personal freedom and choosing to indulge the self. It’s another gripping and bold take on Diesel’s always apt motto, “For Successful Living.”
Diesel Creative Director | Glenn Martens
Art Director | Christopher Simmonds
Photographer | Johnny Dufort
Talent | Jon Aro, Ivana Vladislava
Stylist | Ursina Gysi
Hair | Alex Brownsell
Casting Director | Isabel Bush
Makeup | Daniel Sallstrom
Production | MAI Productions – Neela Quagliola