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NEW SOPHISTICATE: Shortly after christening the Balenciaga flagship in Los Angeles last April, designer Nicolas Ghesquière barred shoppers from it for two days. But he had a “beautiful” reason. Ghesquière used the new 5,000-square-foot store on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood as the location for the French brand’s fall-winter campaign shoot, featuring actress Charlotte Gainsbourg. The ads break in the August issue of British Vogue, followed by other fashion titles.

“For me, she is one of the most inspiring girls in the world,” Ghesquière enthused. “She’s really representative of what France is today. She was always so modern in her choices and her way of being. She’s so iconic for me.”

This story first appeared in the June 16, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Still, Ghesquière chose to portray his friend of 10 years in line with his hyper-chic and “more mature” fall-winter collection. That meant a sleek chignon, strong makeup courtesy of Pat McGrath and arch couture poses — a contrast to the bohemian, “undone” style Gainsbourg has portrayed in other campaigns and in countless editorials.

“It was fun to play with her in a very sophisticated way,” Ghesquière said, allowing that some viewers may not immediately recognize the star of such films as “21 Grams” and “I’m Not Here.” The daughter of French music deities Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, Gainsbourg has also recorded several albums.

David Simms shot the campaign, with the Los Angeles light rebounding off the boutique’s gleaming marble floors and etched metal walls. Gainsbourg follows actress Jennifer Connelly in the Balenciaga spots, and marks a turn towards personalities at a time when many European brands are going back to using supermodels. Ghesquière said he likes to work with film stars. “They are used to playing characters and go deeper into the image,” he said. “There’s definitely a celebrity effect when you shoot an actress. There’s a real frisson.” — Miles Socha

BAND ON THE RUN: Stella McCartney had intended to shoot her fall-winter campaign in Scotland — until one of the models suggested they could use her country house in Gloucestershire, England. Did we mention the model was one Kate Moss? The campaign reunites Moss with her Los Angeles-based model buddy, Frankie Ryder. “It was really good fun. They’d never worked together,” McCartney said, describing a “band moment” on the shoot that had Moss on tambourine and the son of photographers Ines van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin on drums. “I don’t like to pick models from nowhere: They have to suit the brand,” the designer noted. To wit: the shoot had a “family atmosphere,” McCartney said, not to mention a pioneering one. “It was nice shooting outside: seeing the girls tottering on their heels in the grass and over the rough terrain.” The ads break in September fashion titles. Meanwhile, McCartney has been flexing her linguistic muscles, voicing an acceptance speech in Catalan after being named Designer of the Year at the annual Elle Style Awards in Barcelona last Thursday. — M.S.

NEW HIRES: Megan Deem has been named as fashion features editor at In Style. She replaces George Epaminondas, who is going to work on features. For the past five years, Deem has served as Elle’s senior editor, beauty and fitness. Over at, Joe Berean has been tapped as fashion director. In this new role, Berean will oversee all fashion coverage for the site. He joins from, where he was fashion director. — A.W.

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