Sydney Sweeney is the star of Guess’ newest ad campaign, an ode to the late Anna Nicole Smith.
For the 24-year-old — the rising “Euphoria” and “The White Lotus” actress — being the face of the American label is a dream realized.
“When I was maybe 13, I was with my mom, we were in the mall,” said Sweeney, calling from the set of HBO’s “Euphoria.” “Ever since a young age, I’ve always had a bigger chest, and I never felt like in any stores I saw a body shape that represented me. And I remember the first time I saw the giant Guess models [ads] in the storefronts, and I was like, ‘Mom, I want to go in the store.’ And she took me in, and I saw all the girls around that had curves and that had boobs, and they were celebrated, and they were loved, and they were beautiful, and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I hope I grow up and I’m a Guess model.”
She went on: “I already was getting horribly bullied in school because — I mean, I had big boobs when I was little, and no one else really did. And so seeing those kind of girls, I was like, ‘OK, I’m gonna be OK’…I’m humbled and honored that I get to be that girl for someone else, hopefully.”
She joins the likes of Claudia Schiffer, Gigi Hadid and Smith, of course, who was shot for Guess Jeans in 1992 by Daniela Federici.
“I remember her from the Guess ads,” said Sweeney (who’s also been tapped to pose for Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty). “Whenever I think of Anna Nicole Smith, I think of the iconic black-and-white, beautiful photos of her from Guess.”
In junior high, the actress would cut the magazine pages and display them on her bedroom wall in her hometown of Spokane, Wash., she said: “I did feel like she represented my body type, and I love her playfulness and her energetic energy that you could feel through these photos, and I always was like, ‘I hope I can emulate her in that you don’t have to be serious sexy all the time.’ Like, her playfulness brought out the sexiness with her, and I love that.”
It’s what she aimed to bring to life herself, while shooting her own campaign for Guess Originals, photographed by Kenneth Cappello in Malibu, Calif., with creative direction by Guess’ brand partnerships director, Nicolai Marciano.
“I felt the most me I’ve ever felt in a photo shoot,” said Sweeney.
She’s been self-conscious at times in the past, she added: “I’m not a tall, skinny model. [I’m thinking], ‘Will the photographer like taking my photos? Am I doing this right?’ I try to create characters so I feel more comfortable, because I always feel more comfortable in my characters’ skin…but I was able to just bring out the playfulness and happiness in Anna’s photos through me.”
For Marciano, the 25-year-old son of Guess cofounder Paul Marciano, though Smith’s brand images from the ’90s were captured before his time, Smith is his favorite Guess model, and this new campaign was a reason to “celebrate Anna,” he said.
“She’s still such a relevant figure in modeling, advertising…She left her imprint on the world,” he said, adding that the new visuals were made to honor her legacy, while putting a spotlight on Sweeney.
“Sydney Sweeney is someone who we’ve definitely been a big fan of,” he said.
The brand is releasing a 32-piece apparel and accessories collection for women and men as part of the campaign, Guess Originals x Anna Nicole Smith Collection, created in partnership with artist Cali Thornhill Dewitt. The line — including T-shirts, crewnecks, hoodies, bodysuits, pants and denim, as well as hats, totes, socks and sunglasses — is out Oct. 7 in select Guess retail stores, Guess Originals pop-ups, online at guessoriginals.com and select pieces at urbanoutfitters.com. Priced between $12 to $248, some of the items feature graphics from a never-before-seen 1993 calendar featuring Smith, according to Guess.
Marciano and Dewitt, who are good friends, previously collaborated on a campaign inspired by Smith in 2018. It was a limited release, with only 100 sweatshirts dropped, though it “got a lot of traction,” said Marciano.
“Cali and I have always talked about doing the volume two version of it and after the response from the first one, and even just ongoing — we get so many from a social media standpoint,” he explained. “We get so many comments, questions, inquiries about Anna Nicole Smith.”
“This second collection was a chance to expand on the original idea, which was recognizing Anna Nicole as the icon she is,” offered Dewitt. “Anna and Guess are inseparable in my eyes, and this collection is a chance to revisit that legendary and timeless pairing.”