For a luxury goods house best known for its conservative leaning toward a combination of tradition, quality and modernity, you know a game-changer is in the works when David LaChapelle is called into the mix.
Tod’s previous advertising campaigns have been fronted by actresses and classic beauties like Gwyneth Paltrow and Anne Hathaway in traditional glossies where the art direction probably went as creatively as ‘model holds bag while lounging on couch’, ‘bag features prominently while model moves up staircase’, ‘two models with bags hooked on arm on a ladies’ afternoon out’… you get where I’m going with this. The narrative is close to nonexistent, the featured product almost always takes centrestage.
But that’s not how LaChapelle rolls. If anything, LaChapelle stands for everything that Tod’s is traditionally not. Subversive, counter-culture and iconoclastic, the aesthetics of the images produced are just as important as the conversations that they spark off. And he’s gotten us going on a conversation here, so.
The brief given by Tod’s was to express the elegant dynamism of its latest Sella bag; which is a work of craftsmanship in itself. Fashioned from a strip of fine leather, its gentle curve reminiscent of a saddle takes its inspiration from the beautiful line of the back of a thoroughbred. What LaChapelle brought to the table was a pop sensibility to the traditional world of saddlery, spinning a dreamlike voyage of discovery.
Aesthetically, the images were hyper-realistic. Sometimes saturated with colour, at others, whited by a dreamlike mist. Full of equestrian imagery that ran the gamut from toy models of mini-horses prancing on doll-like beds, to horses in realism; but either smaller or larger-than-life interposed in the interplay of present model and timeless landscape. Somewhere along the way, LaChapelle decided that centaurs should feature in dreams too. The images were unmistakably sensual; more than hinting at fantasy and dark adventure.
I loved that instead of fading into the narrative, the beautifully simple Sella bag stood out in its reality, amidst the theatrical scenery. Like Pandora’s box, the Sella’s seeming simplicity belies the voyage of fantasy ready to be unleashed from within.