Gigi Who? 2016â€™s Biggest Campaign Stars Are Celebrities With Niche Appeal
JANUARY 15, 2016 6:32 PM
by JANELLE OKWODU
Although the ultimate purpose of all fashion advertising is to sell clothes, brands use their seasonal campaigns to do more than purely push product. When done right, an ad can convey the essence of a labelâ€™s identity, from the type of consumer itâ€™s courting to the general vibe each label is looking to project. Each element of the final image is chosen with the goal of creating a succinct visual representation of the brandâ€™s message: Casting is only one part of the puzzle, but when used effectively, it can speak volumesâ€”a lineup of youthful waifs conveys a different message than the use of a sole, seductive supermodel. But this season, several of fashionâ€™s power players have eschewed models altogether in favor of celebrities with niche appeal.
Casting celebrities in campaigns is nothing newâ€”celebs come with their own built-in audiences and character associations, which makes it an easier sell, provided they line up with those of the houseâ€”and over the years Oscar winners, athletes, and pop stars alike have been called in to represent fashion brands. Stars make big bucks selling pieces of their glamorous personas to luxury corporations, and tapping into the next marketable personalityâ€”which more often than not includes the promise that theyâ€™ll wear the designerâ€™s wares for all of their big red carpet appearances, a coup in and of itselfâ€”has become a competitive sport. Still, the bulk of the work goes to those with serious name recognition. Or at least, it usedto. Springâ€™s ad darlings have been a little different: Excepting Balenciaga campaign star ZoÃ« Kravitzâ€”who is no stranger to the fashion sceneâ€”the majority of non-models featured in this seasonâ€™s ads are either new to the fashion world or known for their personalities rather than their clothes. Continuing his series from Fall,Marc Jacobs has filled his ads with inspirational and unexpected icons, like Matrix codirector and transgender advocate Lana Wachowski, comedian Sandra Bernhard, and music legend Bette Midler. With a median age of 60, these women are both older than the faces typically featured in fashion imagery and far more likely to have more in common with the average Marc Jacobsâ€“buying woman, whether it be in age, figure, or personal accomplishments (though perhaps on a smaller scale). Though lacking the media omnipresence of a Rihanna or Jennifer Lawrence, Wachowski, Bernhard, and Midler represent the top tier of their respective art forms. Brash, brazen, and undeniably innovative, the trioâ€™s combined pop culture aligns perfectly with Jacobsâ€™s status as a fashion provocateur. By favoring smart, seasoned women over fresh-faced ingenues, Jacobs is sending a serious message to the industry and the world outside itâ€”something along the lines of â€œreal, glamorous clothes for real, glamorous women.â€
By contrast, Miu Miuâ€™s stars are relative unknowns. But that doesnâ€™t mean they lack substance. Actresses Julia Garner, Millie Brady, Matilda Lutz, and India Salvor Menuez fill Steven Meiselâ€™s images for the brand, following in the footsteps of names like Lupita Nyongâ€™o, Elizabeth Olsen, and LÃ©a Seydoux. Miuccia Pradaâ€™s appreciation for cinema has consistently linked both Prada and Miu Miu with emerging talent from the big screen, and this seasonâ€™s roster is as compelling as any that theyâ€™ve showcased previously. Being ahead of the curve with casting serves to reinforce Miu Miuâ€™s reputation for starting trends rather than following them. Introducing its audience to the It girls theyâ€™ll be following for the next year serves a triple purpose: providing the performers with exposure; filling the front row with serious, young talent; and highlighting the fact that Miu Miu will be dressing them for the foreseeable future. And when you have as many awards shows in your future as this group does, thatâ€™s a win-win no matter how you look at it.