Gentle Monster X Sankuanz

Spring 2021 Ad Campaign

Review of Gentle Monster X Sankuanz Spring 2021 Ad Campaign by Photographer CG Watkins with models Turner Barbur, Pilar Boeris, and Mitologika Gerda

Two of the most forward-thinking brands in fashion, Gentle Monster and Sankuanz, have come together for a collaborative eyewear capsule – and its campaign is just as visionary as we would have hoped from such an exciting team-up. Created by photographer and artist CG Watkins, the campaign is both humorous and chilling in its parody of contemporary relationships with technology.

The new collection is name Cilice, for the spiked chain-like device used as a form of self-imposed penitence and mortification (think Silas in The Da Vinci Code). It’s a strange name for a pair of sunglasses, but Gentle Monster has always been very conceptual, and the strangeness doesn’t stop there.

Watkins’ campaign imagery imagines a dystopian world of ritualized technological pleasures and propaganda. We see figures strangely connected to digital monitors as if they were uploading their souls to the web, while elsewhere they participate in what appears to be strange group sex or torture rituals. Religious imagery like church architecture or a single apple subtly emphasize the ideas of tradition and ritual. The film is punctuated by propagandistic phrases that command us to engage: “TOUCH,” “APPLAUSE,” “EMBRACE.”

Watkins seems to be criticizing aspects of our relationships to technology, particularly social media. There is indeed something cult-like in the unquestioning worship of selfies and numbers of likes. And while social media presences can seem narcissistic, there is indeed also an element of masochism in constantly comparing oneself to others on the internet – hence we have another connection to the cilice.

While the campaign is critical of conformity, it thereby encourages us to break out of our masochistic and self-destructive relationship with technology and embrace our freedom – before it’s too late. Gentle Monster continue to impress us with their highly conceptual and culturally relevant explorations of the power of technology. Consistently making unexpected yet brilliant choices in terms of artistic collaborators, they both inspire and terrify us with their visions of the future.

Photographer | CG Watkins
Video | Julien Veron, Maëva Vo Dinh, Lil Internet, and Cestainsi
Models | Turner Barbur, Pilar Boeris, and Mitologika Gerda
Hair | Ramona Eschbach
Makeup | Cecile Paravina
Set Designer | Christian Feltham