Lanvin: Soar Thumb’s Pick As Best Ad Campaign of 2012

Lanvin uses “real people” as models for their fall 2012 line.

Lanvin Creative Director Alber Elbaz has gone into the no man’s land of high fashion advertising. He launched an ad campaign for the design house last summer that used “real people” as models for their fall 2012 line. The company uses all types of people off the streets of New York City from 80 year old women to 18 year old men. The campaign came out really nicely with an eclectic feel that couldn’t be accomplished with clone-like, 17 year old, six foot, blonde models.

The Lanvin campaign was experimental, so it was not at first a part of a larger integrated marketing communication mix. The agents of the company scoured the streets of NY looking for people in restaurants, Laundromats, and cafes to find people with interesting features, varying body types, and electric personalities to star in their print campaign. These hunts lead to the discovery of around 12 men and women who would model the line in print ads. But, later after the idea gained steam they released a video available on Youtube of the models being interviewed and asked random questions about themselves. They have also repeated the process for the spring 2013 lines.

Lanvin is infamous for many things, from “Lanvin blue” to simple silhouettes made spectacular through embroidery and embellishment. A consumer doesn’t have to look hard for all the things that are “Lanvin signatures”, and Elbaz has certainly continued that legacy. But in this ad campaign there is a fresh air of life breathed into the label. It proves the brand to be cross generational, with 75 year old women in two piece garments dripping with shiny beads and gems to 25 year women in party dresses. Yet, Elbaz manages to do this without one garment looking out of place. Through print media you see that the brand and style of the house is timeless and classic but still with a new and fresh perspective. The video presentation of the campaign digs a bit deeper, to show you just how “regular” these models are. One woman worked as a shop girl in the 50’s while another woman collects salt and pepper shakers. One young man admits that he feels physically ill without his cell, while an older gentleman wants to feel like James Bond in his clothes. The campaign was well put together to show the consumer that Lanvin is not just for royalty and socialites, but for anyone who wants to feel ‘pretty’.

Elbaz wanted to send a message that high fashion is not always as unattainable as it seems. He also wanted to show that his designs are made for people of different races, sizes, body types, and age groups. The designer says that he grew tired of the mundane manner of showing high fashion through the eyes of ‘one size fits all’ model casting. He decided to send a team of casting agents out to see what they could find. He found a group of people who were dynamic in ways beyond the current culture ideal of beauty throughout the fashion industry.

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Elbaz and Lanvin worked with some heavy hitters in the fashion industry to realize this vision. He worked with casting agent Zan Ludlum who found models from everywhere, including an 80 year old model found on the street style blog Advanced Style. Elbaz also worked with the infamous photographer Steven Meisel, who’s worked with iconic magazines like US and Italian Vogue, and celebrities like Madonna. Elbaz enlisted some of the top makeup and hair stylist in the industry for this campaign.

Lately, the idea of reality casting has been very popular. The idea was sort of pioneered in the 80’s and 90’s by The United Colors of Benetton, but today many brands are seeking out this down to earth method to create buzz  and attract consumers who may have been outside of their original target market. But this has rarely been done by higher end/ couture fashion houses. It was certainly unexpected to be done by Lanvin, the oldest remaining French fashion house. Brands like American Apparel, Anthropologie, and Spanish designer Delores Cortes are all using unique yet completely normal people for babies with Down syndrome to classic looking elderlies to ambassador their brands. But if anyone from a classic couturier would adapt this style, Alber Elbaz would be among my top five guesses.

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