THE FRENCH MIX IT UP
Byline: Sarah Raper
PARIS — Mario Sorrenti’s twist on five masterpieces for Yves Saint Laurent is shaping up to be one of the big stories in fashion advertising here this fall.
“We saw Mario Sorrenti’s book and thought it was very pictorial,” said Saint Laurent spokeswoman Clara Saint. “Our agency suggested the theme of the paintings and Mr. Berge [Pierre Berge, YSL chief] loved the idea.”
For the campaign, which features Kate Moss for Rive Gauche and Scott Barnhill for Rive Gauche Homme, the house chose well-known “tableaux” that would be immediately recognizable, and then played with the men’s and women’s roles — Edouard Manet’s nude Olympia is a man, fully dressed, in the YSL version, and the artist’s “Le Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe” shows Moss in pinstripes and two companions in the buff.
“It is an institutional campaign for the house of Yves Saint Laurent, and I would very much like to see others in the same vein of institutional communication,” said Berge enthusiastically.
Saint, citing Saint Laurent’s Mondrian dresses from 1968, Warhol’s portrait of the designer and Berge’s and Saint Laurent’s recent gift to the National Gallery in London, noted, “For us the art tie-in is not just a coincidence.”
Asked whether the house had hesitated after Vivienne Westwood broke a campaign inspired by “The Raft of the Medusa” by Gericault in February, Saint said, “Of course we considered the Westwood campaign, but hers is a big historic painting and nothing was changed from the original. Ours is very intimate and everything is turned upside down.”
Saint said the house was sticking to double-page ads in its traditional magazines, but was considering adding outdoor advertising, so pleased were executives with the visuals.
At other houses, especially those that are part of the luxury group LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the big story is aligning the ready-to-wear and fragrance and beauty advertising to make the most impact. Kenzo was the first of the LVMH houses to push for better coordination between fashion and beauty, and for fall Dior is joining the club.
The beauty and apparel campaigns were photographed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino and will break in Europe in September; the U.S. launch is scheduled later this fall. The rtw campaign features Kate Moss and Natalia Semanova.
Sabina Belli, international marketing director for the fragrances division for Parfums Christian Dior, said the beauty campaign would introduce a “new product that is our best interpretation of the new couture image.” While Belli would not divulge too many details, she said Dior is looking to strengthen the link between fashion and beauty with the arrival of John Galliano. She said, “Nobody can ignore the arrival of Galliano. It has given a new start to Dior.
“For Dior, it will be the first demonstration of a long-term strategy to get everything together,” said Van Tran, artistic director for the campaigns and founder of a new ad agency, Air in Paris, which opened Jan. 1 and handles both Dior accounts, as well as Hermes, Cacharel fragrances and Marithe & Francois Girbaud.
Dior fashion is part of the holding company that controls LVMH, and Parfums Dior is a division of LVMH, making it easier to coordinate creative, with everyone in the same group.
But it’s still not easy to pull off, since fashion advertising changes twice a year and fragrance advertising is usually conceived to last two years minimum. Fragrance ads also tend to deliver a much more precise product message than fashion ads.
Chanel has been studying how better to coordinate fashion and fragrance advertising, said Eric Phrunder, who oversees fashion advertising for the group. A first step was the company’s spring camelia promotional tie-in with the Chelsea Flower Show that included beauty items, a scent and accessories. The visuals for the camelia module on Chanel’s Web site were designed to pull everything together.
After a spring campaign shot in Biarritz by Karl Lagerfeld, for fall Lagerfeld traveled to Weil am Rhein in Germany, just outside Basel, and shot in the Vitra furniture offices and studios designed by Tadao Ando. Lagerfeld is passionate about Ando’s work and has commissioned a house from the Japanese architect.
“These are photos for the new millennium. The girl’s makeup is new, with big eyelashes,” Phrunder said, adding that Chanel was sticking with its usual buy of two- and four-page spreads in fashion magazines, entertainment titles like Premiere and Studio and general news titles — all added to Chanel’s buy last year.
He also said Chanel is interested in pushing further with multimedia. Its Internet site, designed by Lagerfeld, is operating ahead of projections, and early statistics provided by the company show Chanel had an average 170,000 visits to its site per month in June, compared with 40,000 for the English on-line version of Elle and 160,000 for Clinique. Phrunder said Chanel updates its site every 15 days.
He added that Chanel was studying a range of possibilities, including advertising in other publications’ on-line sites.
Cacharel has decided to break with the ultraromantic images it always has used — a concept developed by photographer Sarah Moon and carried through by others. This season, Cacharel called on four photojournalists, not fashion photographers, to shoot visuals for the men’s and women’s collections, a new junior line called Baby Jane, accessories and children’s wear.
“The brief was to develop an image that’s more modern,” said Karine Veyrunes, artistic director for the campaign at the agency Penthievre. “In the past, Cacharel was known for its fuzzy images with lots of grain. They were always superb, but perhaps not commercial enough.
“There’s still some fuzziness here, but this time, it’s controlled. It’s still romantic — we shot in various gardens in Paris — but it’s more focused on the product,” she said.
She said the idea of using photojournalists was not new. “It’s been tried before. But usually, at the last minute there’s someone, an artistic director or company executives, who gets cold feet, scrap the project and bring in a fashion photographer,” Veyrunes said.
“The word reporter, with its connotations of a scruffy guy from Beirut with a backpack, really scares everyone off.”
Cacharel plans to buy a smattering of pages in fashion magazines like Vogue and Elle, but its budget is concentrated on a new, bigger catalog that will be mailed to clients and handed out in stores. In the past, Cacharel printed about 200,000 copies of a 30-page catalog for women only. For fall, for the first time, the print run is 350,000 (for France, Spain, Italy and limited copies for Japan) and the catalog, which exists in French/English and Italian/Spanish versions, includes men’s and children’s fashion, accessories and several pages on the fragrances that are licensed to L’Oreal.