By  on March 3, 2008

PARIS — No matinee idols for Louis Vuitton. Its latest poster boy, Keith Richards, has deep wrinkles, smudged eyeliner and unruly hair as he sits strumming a guitar in an untidy hotel suite. And Antoine Arnault, Vuitton's head of communications, couldn't be more pleased. "We thought it was important to continue with someone unexpected," Arnault said of the Richards ad, slated to break in a range of general-interest titles in April. "I think when people are flipping through a magazine, this will stop them."

A legendary guitar player and a founding member of The Rolling Stones, Richards is the latest personality to appear in Vuitton's "core values" campaign, designed to underscore the brand's travel heritage and classic monogram leather goods as a balance to its fashion-driven marketing. Launched last fall, the first batch of ads — starring Mikhail Gorbachev, Catherine Deneuve and tennis deities Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf — will continue to appear in tandem with the Richards image. The new spot comes with the tag line, "Some journeys cannot be put into words," and the rocker's haunting, hypnotic expression says it all. Arnault recalled that, when Annie Leibovitz displayed the photograph on a computer monitor after the shoot, Richards exclaimed: "It looks like a Rembrandt." Albeit one with many rock 'n' roll details, including black scarves printed with skulls covering the table lamps — a Richards touch — and a custom-made Vuitton guitar case tossed on the bed.

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