Jumping, twisting, tilting silhouettes in advertising have become so ubiquitous (ehem, iPod ads) that it is sometimes easy to forget that it was artist Robert Longos early 1980’s “Men in the Cities” series of pencil drawings — dynamic portraits of friends including Cindy Sherman, featured in the film sets for American Psycho — that introduced the now-iconic graphic conceit. So when images from Bottega Venetas new Fall-Winter 2010/2011 advertising campaign began showing up online, it was not immediately clear that the Italian fashion house’s creative director Tomas Maier had gone back to the source for the energetic photographs.
“He said something to the effect of ‘Instead of ripping you off, we want to hire you,’” Longo told W magazine of Maier’s courtship of him for the collaboration. He added, “They got me at hello.”
This partnership comes off the heels of many other innovative fine-arts/high-fashion pairings orchestrated by Maier, who has commissioned work from non-fashion photographers like Stephen Shore, who told W he was “shocked” to get Maier's call; Nan Goldin, in whom the proposal inspired “panic and fear”; as well as Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Larry Sultan, and Tina Barney.
“Creative collaboration is central to Bottega Veneta’s mission,” Maier told Style.com, explaining that the company’s Web site, which hosts archives of old campaigns, “functions like an art gallery of our most compelling projects.”
In Longo’s photographs, the artist captured the perfectly-crafted leather, sleek silks, casual natural draping, and Patrick Batemen-esque double-breasted suits for both men and women that appear in the new Bottega Veneta collection.
Reading Maier’s description of the Fall/Winter line, it seems impossible that any of fashion photography’s old faithfuls would have been nearly as well suited to head the campaign as Longo. For, as the creative director said on the label's Web site, of the women’s and men’s lines respectively, “the silhouette is the focus... it starts powerfully, with a structured shoulder, then becomes gentler and more fluid at the bottom,” and “there is sophistication, but also playfulness, bravado, eccentricity, rebelliousness.” If those aren’t descriptions of Longo's romping businessmen, it is difficult to imagine what is.
View the video of the Longo photo shoot for Bottega Veneta, from Style.com, below.