CALVIN’S STAR SEARCH CONTINUES
Byline: Lisa Lockwood
NEW YORK — Calvin Klein has another musical production on his hands.
This spring, once again, there will be hardly a super in sight — with the exception of Christy Turlington for underwear. The CK Calvin Klein Jeans campaign, shot again by Steven Klein, features cutting-edge musicians who are not household names yet, but are making waves in the music scene.
“The Calvin Klein Jeans ads are still edgy, contemporary and not mass,” said Calvin Klein, in an interview Wednesday at his office. The ads are built around Klein’s new “Dirty Denim” collection, which hits stores this month.
While Klein declined to discuss his spring print budget for CK Jeans, CK Collection, Calvin Klein Collection and Accessories and Underwear, he said the print buy is even with last year, but he’ll spend slightly more overall with additional outdoor, postcards and online banner ads.
Among the musicians featured in the jeans campaign are Joshua Todd of Buck Cherry, a punk and hard rock blues band; Lisa (Left Eye) Lopez of TLC, who is coming out with her own solo album; Macy Gray, a rhythm and blues and soul artist; David Silveria of Korn, a hard-core rock band, and Tim Wheeler and Charlotte Hatherley of Ash, a U.K. group. There’s also Moby, a techno artist; Shakira, a Latin American pop rock singer and songwriter; Delores O’Riordan of the Cranberries; D.J. Rap, a U.K. deejay, and Ja Rule, a hard-core rapper who plays the lead in Madonna’s upcoming movie, “Ghetto Superstar.”
The ads were shot in a New York studio, using a variety of striking backgrounds, ranging from colorful sunsets and mountains to bolts of lightning.
Klein said that while fashion designers may have their own brand of hang-ups and attitudes about who they’re grouped with in certain situations, musicians are even worse.
“They have tremendous attitudes about who’s cool and who’s not,” said Klein, adding that many wanted to know who else was in the campaign before they agreed.
“They’re very aware of who else is doing this campaign,” said Klein. The designer said he wanted to limit the campaign to people “who are critically well accepted, but are just not that well known.”
Does he think being in the Calvin Klein campaign will help their budding musical careers? “If it does, great. I think people are doing it to be a part of it. They think it’s fun and cool. And we think they’re so cool and talented.”
And what budding rocker or rapper wouldn’t want a double-page spread of themselves in a fashion, music, entertainment or men’s magazine or, for that matter, a huge billboard overlooking Ninth Avenue?
“I’d love nothing more than having a great picture of myself in an ad,” admitted Klein.
“You know what’s so much fun about this?” he added. “I just got a letter from Liz Phair (who’s featured in the current fall campaign), and she’s really cool. We’re photographing portraits of these people, and we put on their makeup and clothes. They thank us for being part of such a really glamorous campaign. They think it’s glamorous to be in our campaign, and I have such respect for them.”
“When I think of denim and jeans, I automatically think of music,” Klein added, in that both have universal reach.
The jeans ads will run in a host of magazines, including Rolling Stone, Spin, Vibe, Alternative Press, Teen People, Seventeen, YM, InStyle, Interview, Time Out and Paper.
In January, five different ads will appear on the back cover of Rolling Stone, which will be shrink-wrapped with the musicians’ respective CDs for newsstand sales.
Most of the ads will break in February magazines, and the images will also appear on walls — a new one will go up on 14th Street and Ninth Avenue on Jan. 15 — and Max Racks postcards.
Continuing a tie-in begun this fall, the musicians will also appear on the CKJ Network, which is part of MTV.com. Each of the artists decided which songs they wanted to put on the Web site, which can be downloaded, and browsers can also find information about the members of the ad campaign. The new series goes up Jan. 15.
While musicians are the driving force in the CK Jeans campaign, actors are the focus in the CK Calvin Klein sportswear ads.
Included in the CK campaign are Chris Klein, who appears in “American Pie”; Elodie Bouchez, featured in “La Vie Revedesanges,” for which she won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival; Jimmy Fallon, who appears on “Saturday Night Live,” and Vanessa Shaw, who was in “Eyes Wide Shut” and will appear with Sean Penn in the upcoming film “Los Angeles Without a Map.”
Many of the actors are photographed against a graphic backdrop that resembles a burning city. “And people say I don’t like colors,” said Klein, when a visitor took note of an apocalyptic firestorm image in several of the ads.
Again, Klein said he went with actors who aren’t major stars yet.
“It’s much more interesting to discuss. This is an American thing. We always want something new and fresh, the next new thing. Especially in the fashion business. The other side of that is when you choose someone who’s so well known, it shows no creative thought at all. To use Gwyneth Paltrow in advertising right now, you don’t have to be a genius. You just have to spend millions of dollars. If you wanted to use her before she became a star, it’s much more interesting,” said Klein, an obvious reference to his idea to feature Paltrow several seasons ago before she was a major star. The timing for Calvin didn’t work out then, but this holiday, Paltrow appears in the Christian Dior handbag campaign.
As for Calvin Klein Collection, Klein chose Collette, the Russian model who opened and closed his spring runway show. Klein considered using her as the Collection model for the fall campaign, but he was afraid she was too thin and he’d get too much flak. Well, she’s still thin, but Klein insists she’s put on weight.
“I was a little concerned about the weight. She’s gained weight. She’s a very healthy young woman,” said Klein.
The men’s campaign has Justin Chambers, who appeared previously in Contradiction for Men, Men’s Collection and jeans ads.
Turning to the Calvin Klein Underwear business, which, as reported, added J.C. Penney to its list of clients, Klein refused to talk about it and deferred all questions to Linda J. Wachner, who owns the Calvin Klein Underwear business. The ads are sexy and steamy, though, and once again star Christy Turlington.
“Those photographs are really sexier than in the past,” said Klein. “They’re in a place where there’s not a lot of furniture, and there’s a sense of them being in their place.”
The Underwear ads were shot by Mario Testino and focus on Klein’s women’s foundation business. The male ads, which feature Michael Walton, highlight the new microfiber briefs and trunks.
One of the women’s underwear ads show images of Turlington lying on a shag carpet.
“She’s gotten much more confident and not as afraid,” said Klein. “She was always very controlled and gorgeous. She’s growing up and a woman now. She’s a real sexy woman now.”