NEW YORK — The house of Bill Blass has had its share of renovations in the past year, so it’s fitting that the label is taking on a more playful spirit for its fall ad campaign.
The new mood extends even to the shoot’s location of Glen Cove, N.Y., the bucolic town that provided the backdrop for the original “Sabrina,” a film about transformation — something Bill Blass executives have been undertaking for months. As part of its plan to woo younger women without alienating the Ladies Who Lunch crowd, Bill Blass is counting on model Elettra Wiedemann’s striking poses to rev up interest in the venerable brand.
Testimony to Bill Blass’ dualism, Wiedemann is seen wanding gigantic bubbles on the lawn of a private estate in one image, and in another looking ever the sophisticate, seated, legs crossed, in a stately room with hand-painted walls.
Shot by Anders Overgaard and developed by New York-based ad agency Chabot Hardin, the $1 million print and outdoor campaign will break in September issues of Vogue, Vanity Fair and W magazines (all of which, like WWD, are owned by Advance Publications Inc.). Chabot Hardin co-founder Russ Hardin said, “We wanted it to be elegant and sophisticated but relaxed, because people don’t live in such a starchy way.”
Prabal Gurung, a member of Michael Vollbracht’s design team, added, “There’s something so serious, but they have an element of fun. That is what’s modern now.”
This is a homecoming of sorts for Wiedemann, who moved back to Manhattan from Europe earlier this year. Known by many as Isabella Rossellini’s 22-year-old daughter, Wiedemann is striving to be recognized in her own right, preferring not to use her famous surname. Aside from appearing in a Ferragamo campaign and working with a few Italian designers, the Blass ad campaign will be the first major one she has headlined in the U.S. She will also walk the runway in Blass’ Bryant Park show Sept. 13. Wiedemann did not turn to her mother for pointers before the Blass shoot, explaining that she tends to count on her for advice about “how to deal with the agencies — that is the advice that one needs.”
During a first look at the ads Monday at Blass’ offices, Wiedemann was delighted to learn her image will be splashed on a Seventh Avenue billboard and on telephone kiosks near Bryant Park during 7th on Sixth next month. She was even more pleased to learn of the company’s plans to use her as the face of the fragrance it will introduce next year.
Bill Blass vice president Jean Claude Huon said the company has drawn inspiration from the trilingual student, who was just back from a multicountry tour and was en route to an interview at the New School. Her aim is to major in anthropology, African politics and economics for developing countries, to help integrate African tribes into the world economy without changing their lives too much.
Interestingly, the excess of the fashion world didn’t drive her to this idea, but helped cultivate it. “Fashion made me want to help them because they are such delicate craftsmen. A lot of the clothing and jewelry they make is really sophisticated and beautiful. This [talent] could be something big designers use [for special designs] and to help conserve their natural way of life.”
In some regard, that mind-set is something that Bill Blass is trying to incorporate by featuring Wiedemann in its ads. “This is a continuation of the house to change without changing the company,” Huon said. “Getting Elettra was the first part.”