The impact of the movies in GUESS campaigns
SANDY BRANT : I think it’s really the image for Guess is so strong and clear from the beginning .
PAUL MARCIANO : And always we shot women, always very feminine. And I wanted the big thing like Wayne and Leann, we wanted to set ourselves aside from everyone else in a magazine. When you see our ads, you don’t have to pause and say, “Who is that?”Go back to your magazine of the 80s. I have all of them. Every apparel company looked the same except Bruce Weber. Bruce Weber was five steps ahead of everybody. How gorgeous and how — when he had that — oh my gosh, that dark-haired girl in the river. What was her name? I’m trying to remember. And also there was a Rosemary McGrotha .
PAUL MARCIANO : How beautiful she was. But that was in the late 80s. Early 80s, it was this girl who became an actress, curly hair, thick, dark hair .
INGRID SISCHY: Oh, Andie MacDowell?
PAUL MARCIANO : That’s it .She was in Calvin Klein before Brooke Shields.
In W magazine? Am I correct?
INGRID SISCHY : Yes, completely . So this feeling, it was clear from the beginning and it’s the same, even though, of course, it’s changed. And what would youif I’m a young photographer and you ‘re giving my job and I’m new, what would you say Guess is — if you were telling me the feeling should be?
PAUL MARCIANO : The feeling should be that it always has to be feminine , always sensual, always close to a real- life reality of an image of a woman. But also I think there is a part of every picture that we do where I try to just pass a dream I have, flash memories of Brigitte Bardot, which have never been replaced , and the Sophia Loren, which as of today no actress has come close to going back to the 60s. I will tell you about meeting with her. I met her in her home just a few months ago . Sophia was a dream woman for decades around the world.
I want to just keep that alive of something that I don ‘t see today actresses who became like … or dream of decades of …, people, customers. I don’t. Maybe it’s me, but I don’t see it. I know that still Marilyn Monroe makes people dream.
INGRID SISCHY : Marilyn Monroe was also, you know, for decades, women also thought of Marilyn Monroe as a victim, a victim who committed suicide. It actually turns out she wasn’t such a victim and how smart she was, but why?I mean, you are such a contemporary, modern man, and this image of a certain kind of woman and a certain mind of man, what do you think it is?
PAUL MARCIANO: I don’t know. I felt that at the time in the 60s and 50s, at the time of Annie Dykburg , if you remember her, I mean, the actresses that I’m talking about were enjoying life in a different way than it is today. I mean, simple things. When you see the movie The Misfits, when you see the movie And God Created Women, I mean, you can put yourself in this village in St. Tropez and see what happened in front of your eyes in the 60s.
When you see the movie La Piscine, with Jane Fonda, there was a certain lifestyle and a certain joie de vivre and a certain nature that is completely disconnected today with all that we see in movies .
What I believe that actors created is make generation like mine dream. If you tell me what music you loved the most, I had one that I was obsessed with when I was 15 and all my teen years and my 20s were the Beatles. And I never liked the Rolling Stones. Don’t ask me why.
It was too rough. It was too hard. I loved the romance, and the melody. Have you seen the movie Across the Universe?
INGRID SISCHY : Oh , of course .
PAUL MARCIANO : I saw it like six times. The movie had no success because I think they had no money to do the marketing .But the woman who did that — I don ‘t know the name of this —
INGRID SISCHY: Julie Taymor.
PAUL MARCIANO : I mean , she did a phenomenal job .That movie gave me goose bumps from A to Z.
INGRID SISCHY : So it’s the romance. It’s the natural and for guys, Paul, if you were to list, who would it
PAUL MARCIANO : No, my biggest idols, if you told me, “pick four right now ,” are Steve McQueen … of course was incredible . France has never had a movie star like him — how good looking and what a good actor. His private life is a disaster, but as an actor, if you go back to the movie history, he has accomplished so much, and very difficult movies with incredible actors. I mean, the Visconti’s of the world .Look at who he shot with? Incredible. Then, of course, I am a big, big fan of the James Bond who made my teenage years, Sean Connery.
INGRID SISCHY : Me too .
PAUL MARCIANO : I ‘m an incredibly big fan of him .Clint Eastwood and I was and I don ‘t understand why in America he has not been recognized as big as he is and as great of an actor as he is, but Kirk Douglas.
INGRID SISCHY: So great .
PAUL MARCIANO : If you look at his movies in black and white when he was playing very dramatic movies, of course, Spartacus and all that, Viking. But I mean, look at what he has done. It’s incredible. I mean, incredible, actor.
And I have five really would stick out more than Gary Cooper or Cary Grant.
INGRID SISCHY : Well, they all also have a certain kind of attitude , and so do your pictures.
PAUL MARCIANO: I mean , Steve McQueen , I cannot get off — like the Thomas Crown Affair, the Getaway.I mean, all those movies , and of course, the Chinese — how do you call that movie in Chinese when he was a soldier, a seaman on
SANDY BRANT : The Sandpiper. Right?
PAUL MARCIANO :Yes.
SANDY BRANT : I have a question I’m dying to know .How did you know that it was important to tell stories? Don ‘t you think you were the first person who made campaigns that told stories? All of the books are stories .
PAUL MARCIANO :I think it’s a complete story of what I told you before. It was good when I was 12, 13, 1 4, 15, I was looking at movies instead of going to school and got home and got beat up because of that . Then when I was 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, I was looking at all these James Bond movies, La Dolce Vita, and all that . That all stayed in my head. Of course, the Steve McQueen movies.
I didn’t know any better because I never studied advertising . 1 never went to school. I left school when I was 16. So by accident — a real accident a motorcycle accident . So my mind was translating that as a story. The best — I mean, the best was when I met Ellen, which is a little bit further down.
INGRID SISCHY : Right before we go there, having a guy like Wayne Maser, who also I think he was a dentist or studying .
PAUL MARCIANO : He was a dentist .
INGRID SISCHY : Were you scared when you tried these new guys and nobody knew if it was going to work and your brother George was saying , “What the hell are you doing?” Was the pressure on?
PAUL MARCIANO : Yes, of course . I had to show my brothers the pictures I just did.
INGRID SISCHY : With Wayne.
PAUL MARCIANO : With Wayne, with anybody . When I was doing Herb Ritts you saw the product and all that. The first three shootings with Wayne, I told you there was already some disagreement right away about why the garments were treated like that. Then we published the story and saw the big break. Wayne , Leann and I got along so well until Wayne started to have some personality issues a few years later .
But the outcome, the business of Guess was going crazy. And the image — everybody was talking about this red triangle and the image being so different. Please go back to these pictures you would see in a book of the first decade of ’83, ’84, ’85, ’86.And then one day I came and I said , “Guys, we have to be even more different.” I said, “I want to be completely different that people will always know who we are .” Leann and Wayne asked me , “What do you want to do?” I said, “I want to go black and white.” They said, “You’re out of your mind. Your brothers would kill you ” I said, “I want to go black and white.”
So we went to Austin, Texas and we took Estelle Lefebure, who was a girl that we met in Paris at the flea market. She was not a model. She was there selling leather jackets with her boyfriend. We saw her and, — I think it was Wayne and I, or Leann, but I think it was Wayne — we asked her , “Are you a model?” No “What are you doing?” “I’m selling jackets with my boyfriend .” “Do you want to be a model? ” “Why not?” And this is how we introduced her to an agency in France, and she became a model for Guess.
She came from Paris to Austin and we shot a cowboy story .
The campaign introduced two — three breakthrough facts — very important . I never discussed that with any magazine, only now with you. Black and white, the first time ever, overly sexy — you see the girl and there was so much controversy over that, which we didn’t mean . And I decided to change the logo of Guess. I put the logo in red handwriting signature. So that’s three breakthroughs in
one campaign . And I put multiple pages, 20 pages in Vogue.
INGRID SISCHY : And because it looked so different, it really stuck out like a sore thumb .
PAUL MARCIANO : People went ballistic . The page pri ce in 1 86 was not what it is now.
SANDY BRANT : That ‘s good .
PAUL MARCIANO :It was like $20,000. My advertising budget at the time was like 15% to 20% of the total business of Guess, crazy numbers.
SANDY BRANT : That’s a huge percentage .
PAUL MARCIANO : Crazy.
INGRID SISCHY : But you believed in advertising.
PAUL MARCIANO : Yes. I didn’t control the money , my brother had to give it to me , so they did trust me. So we did that and got bombarded with letters from girls. “Oh my gosh, it’s amazing. We love your ads .We love these black and white .It’s so real. It’s so this.” Then we started to get letters from churches, from women’s organizations, to ask what it was that we were depicting, a girl who has
been raped? And I say, “What are you talking about?” The girl had very low cleavage . The guy behind her is a real cowboy — we took real cowboys, two brothers and a father, and her alone. It was stunning — it was amazing.
But we put rope around her because it was the real deal . They were real rodeo stars. That was Leann’s idea . People thought we were tying the girls up. We said, “No , this is a rodeo,” and we shot the pictures in a midway , a ranch in the mud . People went ballistic, and there was a lot of controversy. So that was a big, big break