Dolce & Gabbana have turned their love of Naomi Campbell into a fitting opportunity for a breathtaking campaign for their SS11 sunglasses collection. Drawing on a series of events celebrating the legend from Streatham’s 25 years in fashion, renowned photographic duo Mert Alas & Marcus Piggot’s campaign images cast Ms Campbell as a tropical Jungle Jezebel, the perfect image for D&G’s Animalier range of eyewear.
The collection of sunglasses offers a range of classic and retro frame shapes, from the large rounded rectangular frames sported by Naomi in the images, to cat’s eye and aviator shapes. What connects them is the animal print finish covering the frames that come in a range of zingy colours.
It’s a fine example of how talented photographers can weave a rich and heady campaign from relatively little. In essence, it’s as much a piece of stunning portraiture as it is a strong series of campaign images. As befits a commercial campaign drawing on a specific model’s career that has so often intersected with the successes of the brand, Naomi Campbell is at the heart of these images. And, once again, we are reminded exactly why she has been around so long. Despite whatever tantrums, antics and tabloid reports of outrageous behaviour we may have come to associate with her, Naomi has one of those faces and photographic presences that simply arrest. Although Mert & Marcus bring all of their usual precision and technical prowess to making sure that this is a campaign in which nothing is left to chance, it is also testimony to their understanding when it is important for less to be more.
Not that these are minimal images. On the contrary, their very specific saturated colours and formal elements to the compositions add up to a highly charged injection of topical sensuality, perfect for any campaign showcasing fashion accoutrements for scorching sunny days and hot balmy nights. But, the skill comes in the balance of ensuring that Naomi Campbell is able to work her unique magic at the centre of the frame. If anyone should question exactly why any brand or magazine might pay such a high fee for a particular model, these are images that answer the question immediately.
No image is divorced from history. But some photographers are subtler than others in how they make the connections. Mert & Marcus, rather than clumsily re-staging imagery we have seen before or directly referring to art history seem to have a tendency to create images in which references to the traditions of the past hover more like a faint mist within the image than reenacting directly. Thus, even though these are images that we can immediately associate with their particular photographic style, they conjure up a number of ideas that are entirely in keeping with the Animalier sunglasses collection.
The collection itself offers shapes, colours and details that readily reference fashion history: the sassy style of Italian Technicolor films from the 1950’s; the jet set campy chic of the 1960’s and the neon saturation of the 1980’s, itself a remaking of a retro kitschy sensibility. These same ideas find their way into Mert & Marcus’s images – for example, think of the zingy colours and ‘luxury trash’ style of Fiorucci at the height of it’s 80’s success- but none is ever allowed to overshadow the perfect model or the Dolce & Gabbana style at the centre of it all.