The approach that H&M have taken on their collaboration with Marni has really worked. In the past, the mass of press ahead of the release of their collaborations has been intense so much so that many people are over it by the time the release date arrives but with Marni the approach has been different. Over the last few months, the retailer has drip fed information to subtly remind us that the collection is coming soon whilst withholding enough to keep us guessing.
We all got excited when the Sofia Coppola-shot video was released alongside an image from the campaign starring actress Imogen Poots and last week saw the duo host a low key but well attended party to celebrate the launch alongside the release of the look book images. But today we come baring more treats as the full campaign finally hit the web this morning. Liu Wen makes a surprise appearance in the campaign alongside Poots.
Things have changed dramatically, but we still have a ways to go. Years ago, if you looked at an agency's roster, maybe 2 percent was black and 1 percent was Asian. I am not faulting the agencies, though; if there was demand, there would have been more. Today, if you open up the newest issue of Vogue, you'll see Joan Smalls, Liu Wen, and Arlenis Sosa representing the most prestigious beauty brands in the business. The challenge for fashion brands is to understand what is considered "cool" in Tokyo, as that’s different than London or Austin, Texas. We have to piece together an inclusive casting of people, but stay on point with the message of the brand. Now, as casting directors, we have to cast our nets further by traveling ourselves or using social media to find that tattooed skater boy who is just as likely to come from Singapore as he is from Bushwick.
The Estée Lauder campaign is one of the best that I've seen for a long time. For their Idealist skincare campaign, bosses have tried to show that the line works for all skin types by using a diverse cast. French model Constance Jablonski, chinese model Liu Wen and Dominican Joan Smalls all appear. The casting is a welcomed movement forward as ethnic minorities continue to be underrepresented in beauty campaigns.
However, at the launch of the new line the company revealed that 40% of women buying skincare in the 18-44 age bracked are women of colour. So was hiring Smalls a way of showing that, as the campaign says, that 'Every woman can be beautiful' or was it really an acknowledgement that black women demand a big part of the market so can longer be ingored?
If Anna Wintour has anything to do with it, Vogue's Fashion Fund will branch into China. Since it's creation, the initiative now runs in Italy, the UK and France as well as the US.
In her editor's letter in the January issue of Vogue, Wintour commended the expansion of the scheme and finished saying, "We hope China is next." We can't say that the move is surprise - Wintour recently went on a trip there.
The last year or so has seen the Chinese luxury market continue to defy the ongoing economic slump and we've seen Asian models sign several lucrative contracts particualrly Liu Wen, who became the first Chinese model to become a spokesperson for Estée Lauder.
Followers of our twitter will know that Joan Smalls has everything to smile about. Last week Estée Lauder announced that the Puerto Rican model has signed on to be the new face of their cosmetics and skincare line and is will appear in a global campaign set to launch in May.
After years of working as a commercial model, Smalls has made a big splash in the world of high fashion over the past year. 2010 has seen her bag a Givenchy campaign, open for Yves Saint Laurent, close for Dior and Gaultier and bag an i-D cover.
“For me, Estée Lauder represents real beauty,” Smalls explained. “It speaks to every ethnicity and age group." Smalls wants to use her role at the brand to create a be a positive role model for women she told WWD. “I plan to bring [women] confidence, so they accept themselves the way they are,” said Smalls. “I am looking forward to creating beautiful images and empowering women.”
Smalls is the third new face to be signed up by the brand, joiningConstance Jablonski and Liu Wen.
If you ask Kwok Chan, Marilyn Agency's director of international scouting, the increasing popularity of Asian models isn't just a fad. Chan, whose agency represents the model Liu Wen, also discusses in Vogue's December issue why none of the most hotly demanded faces are Asian-American, saying: “The only way I can explain why there are no big Asian-American names is, Why are photo shoots done in some exotic locale and it looks like you’ve shot in someone’s backyard? Fashion is fantasy; it’s about perception.”
Shiseido Creative Director Dick Page believes the increase in popularity is due to economics, since in the global market, China, Taiwan and South Korea have made strong gains in recent years. And seeing more Asian models, according to Vogue China Editor Angelica Cheung, has encouraged Asian consumers to shift their standard of beauty. She explained: “Traditionally the Chinese favored a classic kind of beauty — big, round eyes, cute small mouth, a high nose, and very fair skin. The Chinese models who have made it internationally are not beauties in the traditional sense, so they are modernizing the concept of beauty in China. When I was growing up in the seventies, everyone wore a blue, gray, or green Mao suit—there was no chance for women to be glamorous or different. Now you see young Chinese trying to be radical by dyeing their hair blonde or blue, sporting tattoos. It is a combination of copying what they see is popular in the Western world and trying to stand out in a nation where almost all of the 1.3 billion population have straight black hair and brown eyes."
Back in April, Estée Lauderannounced that they had signed Liu Wen as the latest brand ambassador, and here is the model's first campaign. The deal marks the first time an Asian face has fronted the brand.
Although the images have just been revealed online, images won't be up in stores and running in magazines until Spring/Summer '11.