Editorial — Campaign of the Month – August – Marithé + François Girbaud

Before launching into the thrust of the AW 10/11 campaigns that will begin hitting our retinas the minute the last of the summer sales are over, it’s only fitting to highlight Pascal Grégoire’s creative direction and Steve Hiett’s photography for the ‘This Is A Crazy World’ campaign for the persistently creative French brand Marithé + François Girbaud.

Marithé + François Girbaud SS10 campaign. Photo: Steve Hiett (detail)

Marithé + François Girbaud SS10 campaign. Photo: Steve Hiett (detail)

The campaign features a range of images that showcase the different lines by the Paris brand, all presented in the topsy-turvy scenario of a natural world turned on its head. Doing for fashion what artist Rodney Graham did for art with trees, the campaign is one in which the lush and alluring landscape and clothing is both familiar and, of course, immediately jarring. The take-notice factor is therefore high and, that’s no doubt part of advertising agency La Chose’s plan.

With the models becoming like some strange visitors from outer space, timeless dolmens in an exotic landscape or, more directly, a nod to figurative Surrealism in the tradition of Magritte, the SS10 campaign is something perfectly suited to catching our attention on the pages of a magazine or half-consciously perceived when passed in a Metro station.

Needless to say, once our attention has been duly captured, it’s the creations of Marithé + François Girbaud that do the rest of the work; whether from their popular jeanswear ranges, their more experimental prêt-à-porter collections or their admired children’s clothing.

Marithé + François Girbaud is an international brand that has continued to thrive since it was founded by the dynamic husband and wife team way back in 1964. Whilst the Girbaud brand is largely associated with jeans and casual wear – the real backbone of the business’ success, especially in the USA- we do Marithé and François a great disservice if we underestimate the creative fashion achievements of the brand.

Always a little leftfield and not that easily classified in the highly hierarchical French fashion system, particularly as it was in the first two decades of the brand’s life, theirs has been a rather individualistic path. For example, in the 1980’s when traditional couture houses were trapped in a kind of reactionary crisis (before Mnsr Jean Paul Gaultier offered a new approach) uncertain of what to make of the new excitement for ‘street fashion’ emanating from London or the international applause for the sculptural work of Japanese designers and Belgian fashion of a similarly conceptual bent, Marithé + François Girbaud was one of the few established French brands that seemed eager to engage with these new influences and ideas in fashion.

Working their own Parisian magic with some comparable ideas simultaneously originating elsewhere, they found both a new French and international audience for their clothing lines that were not based in a jeans and casual wear at that time. Indeed, this was the seed of an enthusiasm for their prêt-à-porter collections that would muster new generations to stand behind their bold and experimental approach that, just like the advertising campaign, appears to be familiar at first glance but turns out to be a whole lot more unusual on closer scrutiny.

Marithé + François Girbaud SS10 campaign. Photo: Steve Hiett

Marithé + François Girbaud SS10 campaign. Photo: Steve Hiett