Finding Claudia Schiffer and the affect she had on GUESS’ sales
INGRID SISCHY: So you are making movies is what you’re doing with still photographs.
PAUL MARCIANO: I am. We continue to photograph, and also myself, I stop to take pictures with my camera . And we decided to do, again, this rebel attitude — if you call that rebel attitude to say, “I want to be different” — is to show a different side of the shoot — of the set — to the world . We started to take and publish pictures during breaks with Claudia Schiffer, all these girls to see unprepared news report and set up with the props and all that just on a break what does she do? Claudia holds her hair, eats a strawberry . I mean, has just a shirt like that but not closing. And we take pictures and I publish that.
SANDY BRANT : Brilliant . It’s like the Eve Arnold pictures of the misfits.
INGRID SISCHY : Exactly .It’s like photojournalism but for glamor. Glamorous photojournalism.
PAUL MARCIANO : No brand has done that . You can look everywhere. I think Dolce & Gabbana inspired themselves a lot 10 or 15 years later on our campaign.
INGRID SISCHY : Completely . Were you immediately seeing the effect of successful advertising on the business? Would you say advertising has helped the business?
PAUL MARCIANO : Well , the turning point I would say would be the next campaign . The next campaign brought to a different level.
SANDY BRANT: Claudia .
INGRID SISCHY : Yeah. How did you know when you saw her? Where did you see her? How did it happen?
PAUL MARCIANO: I found Carrie Otis with an agency. Ellen found Claudia Schiffer. She is German.She got this German Elle editorial story of a new model called Claudia Schiffer and Ellen loved her the first minute. She sent me the pictures . She said, “Look at this girl .” The girl had no makeup, she was just another German girl — tall, blonde, blue eyes. I mean , what ‘s the big deal. She said, “Well, I think I can do something completely different with her.” I said, “You sent me just two pictures of editorial.
There is nothing there, just a background, a shirt, a skirt, who cares?” She said, “Paul, I met the girl in Germany. I think I can do something great.”
I said, “Okay, come and we shoot .”Claudia came and and we shot a country music story in Nashville, Tennessee.
INGRID SISCHY : It’s a great catalog.
PAUL MARCIANO : It was incredible.
INGRID SISCHY : Why? What did Claudia have then that you think Ellen related to and you did? What Paul? What allowed you to know?
PAUL MARCIANO : The minute I saw her in front of a camera , the first picture I said to Ellen, “She’s a superstar .” The minute we put her hair, the type of Ursulat Andress, the type of Brigitte Bardot, the minute we put a little makeup and we put pictures in a glossy in an animal print jacket and I mean , the minute the click went off, it’s like you go in a room and you put the switch on and off.
The minute the camera stopped, she was a different person. She sits down, she grabs a book and she starts to read .She is super-quiet, super-shy, very, very professional. We do the hair. We do the makeup. We go to shoot. The camera clicks and she becomes a different person; animated to adopt to the story what she is doing.
The most professional girl I ever met in my life was Claudia Schiffer.
The minute she finished her shoot at the end of the day, she goes in the bedroom, goes to read a book, watches a movie, talks to her family and goes to bed. Never a glass of champagne, or glass of wine. It was German discipline. I mean, it was incredible. I love that respect of work. I love that.
INGRID SISCHY : Yeah . And did you see the impact working on the business?
PAUL MARCIANO : With Claudia, the interesting thing was that we found a guy to shoot for us and he looked exactly like Clint Eastwood — as I told you, I’m obsessed with Clint Eastwood. He was 6’3″, tall, blue eyes, blonde, a little nose like Clint Eastwood, and we took them and put them on the set . At one point we said , “Okay , now it’s you and her . You have to go and kiss her .” He said, “I’m not going to kiss her.” I said, “Why?” He said , “I cannot kiss her .” We said , “Wait a minute, it’s just pictures for the campaign .”He said, “I’m not going to kiss her .” I said, “What’s the problem?” He said, “I’m Mormon and I have four kids and I’m not going to kiss her. If you want to fire me, fire me.” I said, “I’m not going to fire you. We need you to kiss her, just kiss her on the cheek.” Nothing. “No , I’m not going to.”
The shoot stopped and we negotiated with him. I said, “I get it. Do you understand how much I will pay to hold her and kiss her if I could be a model?” I said, “I’m not a model. You are.” I said, “That’s your job.” He said, “My job is to pose for pictures, not to kiss a woman.” I said, “You understand it’s a big problem now because that was the story . The country girl singer kissing the cowboy, the cowboy and the girl singer, you get together. You dance together. “He said, “Well, maybe I can hold her, but I will not kiss her.” The best we got out of him was to hold her hand in a record store in Nashville, Tennessee. It was the best we could do. I said, “My gosh, if he knew this girl. I mean, she’s so beautiful.” And Claudia was laughing. She said, “Well, if he doesn’t want to kiss me, that’s okay.” But that’s the kind of story we had.
INGRID SISCHY: It’s incredible. And Paul, was the impact of the pictures good for business?
PAUL MARCIANO : That was right away . At that time the campaign was so strong, so good. I multiplied the page on every magazine from W, Interview, and of course Elle, which existed already in ’85. She came in ’89.
INGRID SISCHY: And did it affect sales? Can you tell?
PAUL MARCIANO : Oh, I mean , our name exploded at every level of Claudia Schiffer who became associated with Guess. The Guess legend started with Carrie Otis but really exploded with Claudia Schiffer.
INGRID SISCHY : Yes . Then the next one where we just have to naturally go, where you even had the role almost like a studio head , where you even changed her name is Anna Nicole Smith . I mean, it seems to me it goes — am I right , from Claudia to Anna Nicole, which is even more explosive in a way .
PAUL MARCIANO : A big one — you miss a big one right between –.
SANDY BRANT : Eva Herzigova .
INGRID SISCHY : Yeah, who did the Marilyn Monroe thing for you better than anyone.
PAUL MARCIANO : I find Eva . I find Eva who was with Metropolitan Agency .
INGRID SISCHY: How did you find her?
PAUL MARCIANO : We had two Polaroid pictures that came in the mail from that agency . I think Ellen saw them and she said, that’s a girl who just arrived two days ago f from Yugoslavia . Do you want her to be a model?” I said, “How old is she?” She’s 17. And I love that girl. I said , “I want to shoot that girl .”
It’s 1991 now, because I did five Claudia campaigns, I think . Eva came — I never met her. I don ‘t do casting. I never meet models. I never met Claudia or Carrie Otis .
INGRID SISCHY : So you meet them on the shoot.
PAUL MARCIANO : I always select models by pictures – today . I don ‘t want to be influenced by the person or personality.
SANDY BRANT because it’s about the picture .
PAUL MARCIANO : So Eva came and Ellen said , “I want to bring a model. She is really starting to be well known and all that .” I said, “Who is that?” She said , “Naomi Campbell. ” I said, “Well, okay, but she is already known . I ‘m not sure I want her. I want somebody unknown. You know, the way I want, I want people that nobody knows.”
Eva, nobody knew her because she had been a model for two days . She had never done an editorial or any campaigns .
Claudia was already such a star, that everybody was sending pictures to Ellen, or me, to say, “This is a new girl we have.” Every agency.
INGRID SISCHY : Yeah. It ‘s not just because she was a star. It ‘s that you were as a company making people famous, multiple pages and everywhere cool. And billboards .
PAUL MARCIANO : Exactly . Claudia was already a statue for a brand that would shoot models like nobody else did .We went to shoot in Rio de Janeiro. With Naomi Campbell as well.
INGRID SISCHY : Naomi was a huge model at the time .
PAUL MARCIANO: Oh yeah, she was big .