Byline: Alessandra Ilari

MILAN — The challenge of replacing Isabella Rossellini, the face of Casa Damiani’s ad campaigns for the past four years, was giving Silvia Damiani a headache.
Now, Brad Pitt has provided the cure. The actor has lent his looks to the upscale jewelry house’s latest print and TV campaigns in Italy, created by Peter Lindbergh and Michel Gondry, respectively.
Pitt and Damiani are tied, via a two-year contract, in a relationship intended to help the jeweler update its image and at the same time point up the role of men as prime purchasers of jewelry for women.
“I was tied to Isabella by a longtime and affectionate friendship. Together, we traveled down an important road,” said Damiani, design director and creative director for the jewelry company. “After that experience, I started contemplating using a man because campaigns always feature the person that receives a jewel and never the one that gives a jewel. This new image is a way to show the emotions and relationship of a man with a jewel.”
The television ad using Pitt was shot in Los Angeles, for the Italian market only. The print campaign features 15 situations that focus on Pitt and only hint at a female presence — a hand, foot or decolletage, in each case sparkling with Damiani’s latest jewels.
For the campaign, Pitt wears Gucci, Prada and Jil Sander.
“Both a jewel and Pitt represent a dream, and together they recount the sophisticated and elegant jewelry world, to which Pitt adds a younger image,” said Damiani.
Franco Bosisio, the managing director for Damiani’s international business, said Pitt was an ideal choice because he appeals to both older and younger women, as well as men.
“He is not about being showy,” Bosisio said. “His lifestyle and the way he conducts himself reflect the tasteful and subtle image of Damiani.”
Pitt, however, was not chosen out of the blue. His presence in the campaign is the result of a friendship that was sparked 1 1/2 years ago. The actor, in Japan, was drawn to a pair of earrings in a Damiani store window. The earrings, called “Blue Moon,” were shaped as half moons and sprinkled with diamonds. Damiani had designed the earrings for the International De Beers Diamonds Awards and had won the prize with them in 1996.
Pitt, looking to buy fiancee Jennifer Aniston a present, inquired after a matching ring, but since the pair of earrings was one of a kind, the store manager directed him to Silvia Damiani.
After the two met in Los Angeles, Pitt commissioned Damiani to design a ring, a project that took seven months. “We worked very closely to translate the same concept of the earrings to the ring. All the time, Pitt was very involved and attentive, especially when it came to the technical details,” said Damiani.
Consequently, when Damiani considered using a man for the new campaign, she gathered her courage and asked Pitt.
Damiani has always been very focused on Hollywood, believing it’s the world’s most powerful industry and enjoys a worldwide echo.
“Hollywood is a great reference point. It has an enormous pull on people because everybody wants to know what the stars are wearing,” she said.
Casa Damiani had its of share glory at the latest Academy Awards, when Penelope Cruz, Marisa Peredes and Jennifer Aniston all donned the house’s jewels.
Casa Damiani’s new projects continue to fuel the company’s sales results. In 1999, sales totaled $195 million, up 25 percent over the previous year, and representing a 150 percent increase over three years.
The company is also reaping the benefits of its acquisition of Alfieri & St. John, a small but prestigious company that Casa Damiani bought at the end of 1998 to buoy its image and increase its international scope.
Casa Damiani has won 18 De Beers Diamonds International Awards. The company has 12 directly owned stores in top cities worldwide, plus 1,500 sales points.