Kate Moss for Calvin Klein, by Herb Ritts, 1992.
Alexander Wang recently stirred up some vintage controversy, the likes of which highly commercial fashion lines have failed to evoke recently. The designer is fresh off of a collaboration with H&M; a foray in to the mainstream for which people all over the world lined up for days in advance. H&M’s website crashed on the launch day.
With an appointment as creative director at Balenciaga, Wang is expanding his fashion empire in the form of a new line of jeans. So, the designer worked to differentiate himself from the self admitted “over-saturated” denim market by channeling his direct competition in their prime and doing them one better.
The Internet was abuzz with talk of Wang’s denim line launch last Monday when the designer took to Instagram to post the first image of his ad campaign shot by Steve Klein. The ads show Anna Ewers, oily, very much naked and as Fashionista puts it, the campaign is pretty “porny”.
Some criticized the campaign for having nothing to do with the jeans. Others were quick to spot the reference to those iconic 90’s Kate Moss Calvin Klein ads. To bring the spirit of those iconic Versace Jeans Couture and Calvin Klein campaigns in to 2014, Wang’s ads look more like a Playboy spread than a denim ad. It seems that in recent decades denim has been closely linked with the emphasis of the female form, there is this element of ease to the fabric, depicted in fashion as a type of second skin.
The brilliance of this campaign is not that it’s innovative, though it is in its own right, but that it pulls from multiple influences, paying homage to great campaigns of the past in a cheekily ironic way. If a 15-year-old Brooke Shields suggesting that absolutely nothing comes between her and her Calvins was shocking in 1981, Ewers with her pants around her ankles in an ad might be the 2014 equivalent.
Anna Ewers by Steven Klein for Alexander Wang Denim, 2014.
(L) Kate Moss & Mark Wahlberg by Herb Ritts for Calvin Klein, 1992. (R) Kate Moss for Calvin Klein, 1994.
Claudia Schiffer for Guess Jeans, 1989.
(L) Nadja Auermann and Claudia Schiffer for Versace Jeans Couture, 1994. (R) Versace Jeans Couture, Photo by Richard Avedon.
(L) Helena Christensen for Versace by Bruce Weber, 1997. (R) Fiorucci Ad, 1988.