LOS ANGELES — Timing is everything.
The disclosure that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are expecting a child this summer came as the latest St. John ad featuring the actress is to break. The image shows Jolie in an evening dress, reclining in bed and reading.
The impact of the Oscar winner’s pregnancy on the St. John campaign, ballyhooed as part of a new direction for the 40-year-old Irvine, Calif.-based sportswear company, wasn’t immediately clear.
If St. John chief executive officer Richard Cohen knew about Jolie’s big news on Tuesday, he kept the secret, talking up the ads as a groundbreaking departure.
“I think they’re fantastic,” Cohen said of the four images photographed by Mario Testino last November in a Beverly Hills residence and styled by Jennifer Rade.
David Lipman, creative director of the Lipman agency in New York, is behind the black-and-white campaign, as well as the brand’s repositioning in the luxury marketplace.
Neither Cohen nor Lipman was available for comment on Wednesday.
The first image, which broke already in the February issues of Vanity Fair and W, is a close-up of Jolie tugging at the lapel of her knit jacket. Vogue has the shot of her reading.
“The images send the message we want to send: That number one, we’re a company going through an evolution,” Cohen said. “And second, we have this beautiful Hollywood star representing us in a wonderful way.”
Gone are the hunky men and exotic locales that were hallmarks of the ads that featured Kelly Gray, daughter of founders Bob and Marie Gray, for more than two decades.
St. John took its first step away from the past by enlisting Gisele Bündchen for last fall’s campaign, also photographed by Testino. Bündchen was still surrounded by men, but those ads began to transition toward a new archetype of California lifestyle and Hollywood glamour that Cohen said are intended to relink St. John to its roots.