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WATCH FACES: Signaling a radical change of direction under new chief executive officer Jacques-Philippe Auriol, watch brand TechnoMarine has unveiled a striking ad campaign that eschews aquatic references in favor of freshly minted brand ambassadors including Marlon Brando’s grandson, Tuki Brando. Described by TechnoMarine as a medical student in Bordeaux, France, Brando has previously modeled for brands including Versace. Joining him on the company’s roster are Taiwanese model Chin Hsi, “Harry Potter” baddie Arben Bajraktaraj and Slovakian model Ivana Vancova. All are shown wearing a watch over one eye like a patch, in a strategy designed to appeal to a young, irreverent consumer. “The brand was at a stage where this renewal of communication was really needed. We are in a storytelling business, and unfortunately, I think the brand had little to say these last years,” said Auriol, who took over as ceo in January, succeeding Vincent Perriard. The campaign was created and developed by TechnoMarine board member Jean-Marc Loubier, produced by French consultancy Being and shot by photographers Nicolas Guérin for the portraits and Benjamin Bouchet for the still lifes. It will break in international media in June and new faces will be added every year. “We’re building a portrait gallery and we want to build a saga for the coming 10 years or more,” Auriol explained.
— JOELLE DIDERICH
FORD MAKES THE LIST: Even seven years after leaving Gucci, the fashion industry still watches Tom Ford’s every move. When he launched his women’s wear line last year, it was the most talked about fashion event of the year. And his much-lauded directorial debut “A Single Man” doesn’t hurt, either. The buzz about Ford continues this week, as insiders gossip about whether he’ll take over at Dior.
Time magazine has taken notice and, for the first time, placed Ford on its Time 100 list. “Tom has manners that are rare these days,” said Rita Wilson, in her piece about Ford. “Handwritten notes are common for the man who wore a three-piece suit every day while directing his visionary first film, ‘A Single Man.’” Ford is the only fashion industry player to make this year’s list; Marc Jacobs and Liya Kebede were on the list last year.
From the media world, Arianna Huffington and Joe Scarborough cracked the Time 100. “Joe’s approach to politics is the same as mine: call ’em like you see ’em, and even if people don’t agree with you on every issue — and they won’t — they will respect you for being honest,” wrote Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Huffington made the list, in part, for “perfecting the art of online aggregation.” “Some of the news organizations that the site links to have suggested she’s hosting a party using their best china,” said Belinda Luscombe. “And one of HuffPo’s contributors has filed a class action against the Web site and AOL, claiming some proceeds of the sale. Still, one sure sign of influence is that somebody wants to bring you down.”
The Time 100 list is online today and the issue hits newsstands Friday.
— AMY WICKS
PACIFIC OVERTURE: Chinese opera star Shenyang has been tapped by Montblanc as the luxury brand’s newest cultural ambassador, joining pianist Lang Lang and actress Eva Green in that role. Shenyang — who combined his given name, Shen Yang, for the stage — will attend Montblanc-sponsored events over the next two years, including the Young Directors Project in Salzburg and the global launch of Montblanc’s upcoming Princess Grace de Monaco collection in September. The bass-baritone is slated to perform at the Metropolitan Opera this winter in roles in “Don Giovanni” and “Rodelinda” — the latter with Renée Fleming, who discovered Shenyang while traveling in Shanghai — and will host receptions for top Montblanc clients following his performances.
— DAVID LIPKE