LONDON, United Kingdom — This season, fashion’s fascination with age and experience stole the limelight from fresh-faced models. From Joan Didion for Céline and Joni Mitchell for Saint Laurent to Julia Roberts for Givenchy and Dolce & Gabbana’s resplendent grandmothers, which is our top pick for Spring/Summer 2015, several leading brands featured older subjects in their campaigns, something the industry has long been accused of avoiding. Critically, breaking the age taboo — and featuring women whose work carries hefty cultural weight — lent brands a degree of cleverly calculated integrity and helped catapault their campaigns to instant success on social media, a battleground now more important than the pages of print magazines. Without further ado, please enjoy our Top 10 campaigns of the season. Which did you like most? Let us know in the comments below.
1. Dolce & Gabbana — Starring Bianca Balti, Vittoria Ceretti, Irina Sharipova, Blanca Padilla, Travis Cannata, Xavier Serrano, Misa Patinsky and José Maria Manzanares by Domenico Dolce
Channelling the spirit of the house’s Sicilian heritage along with Spain’s matador history, Dolce & Gabbana’s Spring/Summer 2015 campaign artfully blends the flamboyance, sex appeal and classical styles associated with both cultures. Art directed by Stefano Gabbana and photographed by Domenico Dolce, the campaign is comprised of street-side tableaux in which men — including 28-year-old Spanish bullfighter José Maria Manzanares — strut and seduce in a pulsating palette of red, pink, black and white, but women rule the roost, flocking together in sumptuous embellished LBDs and dancing the flamenco. And, in a nod to this season’s fascination with age, a cluster of charming grandmothers gossip, with the brand’s embellished leather bags and golden crowns gleaming against their widows’ weeds.
Blending ‘athleisure’ with a touch of ‘health-goth,’ the advertisements for Alexander Wang’s highly anticipated one-off collaboration with H&M confirmed the designer’s current reign as a master of trends. For the campaign, photographed by Mikael Jansson, Wang enlisted real life athletes — English soccer player Andy Carroll and kickboxer Rivaldino dos Santos — to model the line’s sporty pieces alongside modelling industry heavy hitters Joan Smalls, Raquel Zimmerman, Isabeli Fontana and Natasha Poly, who struck stylised poses with ski goggles, boxing gloves and hockey sticks. Wang’s “ultimate dream team” also starred in a campaign video in which models run through hazardous environments, showing off the durability of Wang’s street-inspired activewear. The competitive rigour of the campaign was matched on the day the collection launched, when people battled the elements in hours-long queues to get their hands on the collection before it quickly sold out.
3. Louis Vuitton — Starring Rhys Pickering by Peter Lindbergh
For Louis Vuitton’s Spring/Summer 2015 menswear campaign, designer Kim Jones paid homage to the collection’s Rajasthani inspiration, shooting on location in the city of Jaipur, India. The images’ dusky hues and romantic lighting give tangible depth to Peter Lindbergh’s skillful shots of British newcomer Rhys Pickering, while the curving lines of the city’s maharaja-built architecture echo Jones’ geometric prints and softer silhouette for the season.
4. Sonia Rykiel – Starring Lizzy and Georgia May Jagger by Juergen Teller
It’s a family affair at Sonia Rykiel this season, with rock royalty sisters Lizzy and Georgia Jagger defiantly taking centre stage, posing on the Left Bank of Paris in jumpsuits, knitwear and fur. These pieces come from Julie de Libran’s debut collection as artistic director for the brand and it appears that Rykiel has hit a sweet spot with the designer, whose Spring/Summer 2015 collection injected cool modernity into the brand’s playful cropped jackets, wide sailor-boy pants and satin dresses in a muted palette of khaki, white and navy.
5. Céline – Starring Joan Didion, Marie-Agnes Gillot and Freya Lawrence by Juergen Teller
Céline’s campaign image featuring legendary American writer Joan Didion, was an instant hit on social media. The 80-year-old, known for both her fiction and nonfiction prose, offers a wry smile as she poses in black, wearing the brand’s signature oversized sunglasses and a large gold pendant. Didion is clearly a something of a muse for Céline creative director, Phoebe Philo. The label’s 2014 resort campaign, shot by Tyrone Lebon and featuring model Daria Werbowy, bears more than a passing resemblance to a famous image of the writer sitting in her Corvette Stingray. Didion isn’t the only woman the brand picked for the campaign, which also features French dancer and choreographer Marie-Agnès Gillot and rising teen model Freya Lawrence.
6. Givenchy – Starring Julia Roberts by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott
Creative director Riccardo Tisci has made a habit of using non-models in Givenchy’s recent campaigns. There was performance artist Marina Abramovic, then musician Erykah Badu, followed by French actress Isabelle Huppert. This season, the house cast its biggest star yet: actress Julia Roberts. Shot by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott and styled by Katy England, the black-and-white images eschew Roberts’ famous smile in favour of a stern, inquisitive stance. The image of Roberts is set alongside a picture of autumnal woods that are empty except for a red traffic cone, a diptych that recalls David Lynch’s cult 1990s TV show Twin Peaks with the suited Roberts as FBI Agent Cooper. The woodland scene and Lynchian vibes are picked up again in the second part of the campaign, which features models posing in black alongside an old-fashioned motorbike.
7. Prada – Starring Ansel Elgort, Ethan Hawke, Jack O’Connell and Miles Teller by Craig McDean
These men have taken over film screens and now they’re about to take over the pages of fashion magazines. For its Spring/Summer 2015 menswear campaign, Prada shrewdly cast four of Hollywood’s leading men, all of whom starred in films that are currently in cinemas or expected to sweep up gongs during the current awards season: Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Jack O’ Connell (the lead in Angelina Jolie's war epic Unbroken) and Miles Teller (of critically acclaimed indie hit Whiplash). Captured by photographer Craig McDean, each cast member is given his own spotlight, in cinematic portraits where the eye is drawn not only to Prada’s new season offering of knitwear, separates and tailoring, but to a narrative suggested by a mysterious prop in each of the men’s hands. A pensive Hawke cuts up a photograph; Teller jots down a note, its content hidden from the viewer; Ansel Elgort slices an orange; and Jack O'Connell drinks from a glass.
Following the pairing of Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne for the My Burberry fragrance campaign in September, the British brand once again coupled an iconic supermodel with a new star for its Spring/Summer 2015 advertisements. In what was Naomi Campbell’s first Burberry shoot since 2001 and the fourth for 24-year old Jourdan Dunn, this is the first time the house has launched a campaign starring exclusively black models. Sporting the label’s classic trench and this season’s taffeta tiered frocks and colour-blocked bags, the British beauties were lensed, as usual, by Mario Testino. Unsurprisingly, these images sparked a broader conversation on race and the campaign was widely hailed as a positive step forward for ethnic diversity in fashion.
9. Saint Laurent – Starring Joni Mitchell by Hedi Slimane
Saint Laurent featured 1970s folk icon Joni Mitchell in its latest campaign, photographed by creative director Hedi Slimane in her own home in Bel Air, California, wearing a custom-made leather cape, country hat and folk tunic. Part of the ongoing Saint Laurent Music Project, the image of the 71-year-old singer chimes perfectly with Slimane’s longstanding interest in music. (In the past, Slimane has lensed musicians including Marianne Faithfull, Ariel Pink, Courtney Love, and Kim Gordon). The choice of Mitchell blends the Saint Laurent-fuelled trend for Seventies glamour with the casting of older women this season.
10. Versace – Starring Madonna by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott
Madonna is back as the face of Versace for the label’s Spring/Summer 2015 campaign. In the latest chapter of the star’s collaboration with the brand — Madonna appeared in Versace campaigns twice in 1995, shot by Steven Meisel and Mario Testino, and in 2005, photographed again by Testino — the Queen of Pop sports dark lipstick and a blonde bob. As with previous campaigns, the new black-and-white images, taken in New York by Mert and Marcus, focus on Madonna’s fierce femme fatale image and we see the 56-year-old icon take on a variety of dramatic poses, as she wears Versace’s body-con tops and laser-cut dresses, from a collection tailored for an incredibly toned physique.