Review of Zara Home 2020 Ad Campaign by Fabien Baron with Charlotte Gainsbourg
Although the photographer is perhaps the most important element in a fashion campaign – the layer between subject and viewer, object and eye, designer and consumer – we rarely see campaigns focused on their role. They stay out of sight behind the camera, helping us to see while remaining unseen.
Not so in the newest campaign from Zara Home, which is aptly titled “Exposure.” Directed by Fabien Baron and starring French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg as a lone photographer, the Fall 2020 campaign explores the perspective and process of the photographic artist.
In Baron’s surreal, black-and-white film, Gainsbourg plays an almost neurotically obsessed photographer. Her spacious home is filled with objects that manipulate or reproduce sight and light: video cameras, mirrors, television screens. We follow her as she embarks on several photography projects, first in her home, then on a beach surrounded by steep cliffs. She spots a lone figure perched on a high cliff, and snaps a photo before they vanish. Shades of dark-room red are introduced as she obsesses over the imagery she herself has produced. Finally, she magnifies the face of the woman on the cliff: it is her own.
The still portion of the campaign tells the same story through a journalistic, scrapbook-like series of collaged images. Beautifully lit color photographs are layered over stills from the film, and woven between poetic descriptions of the photographer’s experience of her day and the mysterious impressions it gives her.
The campaign feels both cinematically grand – it has quite a large production team, including epic cinematography and an original score – and singularly focused. All of the elements work together to convey a single artist’s process, one woman’s artistic experience of reflection and self-discovery. One way to interpret the film’s conclusion could be that in all the artist’s efforts to create something new, to see something unseen, they are always searching for their own self.
The items in the photographer’s house do work to deepen the atmosphere and character of the film, but we don’t really care about the furniture as furniture – in this sense, the campaign is not exactly an effective ad for Zara Home, other than building the brand. As a work of art for its own sake, however, as a uniquely self-aware exposition of the medium of photography, we are enthralled.
Film Credits Director | Fabien Baron Talent | Charlotte Gainsbourg Cinematography | Philippe Lesourd ASC Editing | Graham Patterson Original Score | Danny Mulhern Agency | Baron & Baron Creative Director | Margo Populaire Art Direction | Devon Hind Account Director | Matteo Ferrigno Executive Producer | Mina Viehl Head of Post | Jacques Del Conte Styling | Ludivine Poiblanc Hair | Pawel Solis Makeup | Satoko Watanabe Set | Jean-Hugues De Chatillon Sound Design | Raphael Ajuelos Color | Tim Masick Associate Editor | Liam Weir