Getting fired again and discovering Anna Nicole Smith
PAUL MARCIANO : I get a phone call from my brothers .
I mean, Copacabana Hotel and they asked me, “Where are you?” I said, “I’m in Rio .” They say, “What are you doing there?” I said , “I’m shooting a campaign .” “With whom?”
I said, “With Ellen and Eva,” and they said, “Well why are you in Rio to do that?” I said, “To shoot at the beach.” He said, “At the beach?” I said, “Yeah .” He said, “We have beach in Santa Monica. It’s the best beach in the world .”He said , “Why you shoot there?” I said, “Well, I shoot there because the atmosphere with Brazilian boys around, with the samba music around, with all that, I cannot create that. I can’t . They said , “You ‘re out of your mind.” They said, “Come back right now .” I said, “I can’t . I’m shooting again tomorrow and then I come back.” “No, no, no come back tomorrow.” I said, “I can’t. “They said , “Well , if you don’t come back tomorrow You ‘re fired .”
PAUL MARCIANO : They fired me again.
INGRID SISCHY : Did they really?
PAUL MARCIANO: They did . I go home and three of them got together — not one, because they were afraid to talk to me alone . Three of them came and said, “How can you go to Rio? You take 15 there to shoot in the sand . What difference if it’s the sand of Santa Monica or the sand of Rio?
I said , “It’s so different. I cannot explain to you but Rio is Rio and the atmosphere you have, your skin goes straight when you go on the street of Rio.” And here it’s a California beach. The minute you’re on a California beach, you feel that it’s a California beach. And here it’s Rio. It’s a different atmosphere.”
INGRID SISCHY: And what they didn’t know, Paul, is that your are doing this for a fraction of what all the other big guy’s campaigns are costing.
PAUL MARCIANO : A fraction because I paid nothing to the model, or to Ellen at the time . It was like nothing . But, I built an incredible, history and library of pictures. I have millions of pictures — not thousands .
INGRID SISCHY : I know . And so when you went back , did you go back after the shoot was done when they fired you or half way?
PAUL MARCIANO : So they fired me and I was out of a job again for another three or four months this time, but the pictures came out and everybody Talked about them and said , “My gosh, who is that model?” Eva Herzigova . And she is like Marilyn Monroe with … shirt and all that, and people went crazy with the short — with the little vest that she had in the hotel, that we shot inside the Hotel Copacabana bedroom. We knew she was magic.
INGRID SISCHY : And you also included in that campaign lines from Marilyn Monroe films.
PAUL MARCIANO : Yes.
INGRID SISCHY : And Marilyn Monroe slogans . I mean, and that handwriting that you put in .
PAUL MARCIANO : That was Ellen. Ellen was a genius on how to recreate an atmosphere that we all remember, we all lived through . She had the same passion for old movies as me . As of today, she still has the same passion. She had the same memories. We are exactly the same age, so everything she grew up with, I grew up with and vice versa .
Besides Bruce Weber working with Ralph Lauren, I don’t know any photographers who spent a quarter of a century with a brand, with a company . We have been working together for 25 years.
INGRID SISCHY: Yes, and you just did Claudia again with Ellen.
PAUL MARCIANO : That was the reunion we had.
I did a video when we cut the cake in Paris for one world , one brand . I did not know what music to put. I put one song by Frank Sinatra , My Way. Then I put another song and I wanted to put something classic, elegant with Claudia , Ellen and me. And I clicked just two days before the big convention of 2,000 people . I said, “I’m not happy with the music . I want something else.” And I see the three of us there. It was the first time that we were in the same room together in 24 years. I have been with Claudia without Ellen in the last two or three years that I saw her in LA , in a restaurant with her husband. I see Ellen all the time because I shoot with her a lot . But the three of us never reunited for 24 years.
When the three of us met at the Four Seasons in Paris, we had a video for the cake and all of that for the 30 years. I said how lucky we are. We are all successful. we are all in good health. I said, What a great life.” I said, that’s it . That’s the song. I put Louis Armstrong music, Wonderful Life, and you put that music behind that three minutes video. and people were crying .
SANDY BRANT : Of course .
PAUL MARCIANO : They were crying when I told the story behind that . And then I put the line — the handwritten line of the convention conference. Because of the video, I said, “Guess come out because of you .” And because of you , which means me to Ellen, Ellen to Claudia, Claudia to me , I mean , all of that that the life we created for each other is incredible . Don’t forget that Guess gave Claudia to Karl Lagerfeld . I mean, he found Claudia through Guess and he would tell you that himself. You know that.
INGRID SISCHY : Oh, it’s just incredible . I’m interested in the Anna Nicole because that’s another that’s really you. It’s way more than just a company shooting something for a campaign. It’s a life. It’s changing a life.
PAUL MARCIANO : She was not — she had not posed for Playboy yet . She had one head shot . I went to San Antonio to shoot and my friend Eileen Grabosky. Eileen Grabosky called me and she said, “I have a girl that I want you to meet in Texas .” T said, “I’m shooting for kids .” She said, “You ‘re shooting for kids?” I said , ”Yeah .” She said, “She has a beautiful son, seven years old, Daniel .” I said, “She has a son seven years old?” She said yes. I said, “Tell her to bring her son . I want to shoot her son .” I said, “How does he look? Blonde? Dark hair? Blue eyes? Whatever .” She said , “Blonde, beautiful, seven years.” I said, “I’m shooting kids. I will be there in three days . Tell her to come on the set.”
She came on the set with her boy. She walked on the set and I basically dropped everything .
SANDY BRANT : Yeah , I bet.
PAUL MARCIANO : She is bigger than life. She has no makeup . She has a pony tail . She doesn’t know that I’m looking at her . And I said, “What ‘s your name?” She said, ‘Vicky Smith .” I said, “Who are you here for?” She said, “I’m coming to meet you because I ‘m a friend of Marilyn and that’s my son to do the pictures of kids .” I said, “We ‘re shooting kids right now.”
It was 104 degrees outside — incredibly hot.
INGRID SISCHY : What was it about her , Paul?
PAUL MARCIANO : I am speechless. I have pictures of the very first day I met her . I hope I can find them to send them to you because I shot her. I shot her on the spot — within the first hour I met her at the hotel when she came back because we had to dress her. We sent somebody to the Guess store in Houston or I don’t know what city it was . But we were shooting in San Antonio. We took clothes from the store. She came on location. We have no makeup artist. We have no hair because it’s a kid’s shoot. So the photographer said, “I never shot a campaign for women. I shot only kids, like 2, 4, 6 years old.” I said, “So big deal. Shoot her.” I said , “Shoot anything. I don’t care.” Otherwise, I’m shooting myself. She said, “No, that’s okay, I’m doing it.”
The makeup melted on her every time we did it. She is stunning. She is beyond beautiful. She is Anita Ekberg in the movie of Fellini. And I said, “My gosh .” I mean, I could not look at her .So right away we did that and I flew her to New York to meet Monica Pilar. Monica said, “You’ve got to get that girl .I think she ‘s a star .”
INGRID SISCHY: Great, Paul .
PAUL MARCIANO : Kate Moss was the opposite of what I wanted , in the sense that she was super-skinny, super-thin , like kind of the big trend of how do you call that, the waif?
INGRID SISCHY : The waif. That was the middle of the waif trend — yeah, the height of it .
PAUL MARCIANO : The skinnier you are, the better. The more sick look you have, the better that it is. All of these looks which were so un-feminine for me, and I wanted to do the opposite. I said, “I can take a girl bigger than life and make her feminine that people will connect with her .” I remember it like yesterday , we went to the restaurant Boule . I love that restaurant . It closed, I think .
So with Monica I said, “I am going to introduce you .” She said, “What ‘s your name?” She said,” Have you been a model?” “Never … “What are you doing?” “I’m a waitress.” “Where?” In a restaurant in San Antonio .” I said, to Monica, “You know Monica, I don’t like her name.” The girl said , “But sir” — she always called me sir. She said, “Sir, you can change my name if you want to.” I said, “Can I?” She said, “Yeah .” And I changed her name. And after that I said, ..Your name, I would like you to have Anna Nicole Smith. It ‘s better than Vicky Smith .” She said, “Sir, whatever you want, I will do it .”
I swear to God, word for word what happened. Monica said, “It’s brilliant. I love the name , Do you remember Monica Pilar?” lady.
INGRID SISCHY : Great lady .
PAUL MARCIANO : Oh, I love that lady. How do I find Daniella Federici? I go to the salon of Jose Eber, get a haircut on Saturday afternoon because I don’t have time during the week and the girl is sitting next to me . I look at the magazine on the counter and on the counter in front of me is a book, a black book. I pick up the black book and it’s a photographer book, a portfolio of a photographer. I look at it and I look at it and I said to Lauren, the hairdresser, I said, “Lauren, who is that?’ He said, “Oh , it’s a customer. That is her book.” I said, “She is a model?” She said, “No , it’s a photographer.” I said, “Where is she?” She said, “She is sitting right next to you.” I said , “What is your name?” She said, “Danielle .” I said, “What are you doing here?” She said, ”I’m coming from Australia. I’m trying to find an agent to be a photographer in America.” I said, “Really?” She said , “Yes, I would love to do pictures, but I’m looking for an agent .” I said, “Well , you don ‘t have an agent, but I have a great model and I would like to do pictures with my direction, black and white, and we have a Guess store .”
She said, “Oh my gosh, I love Guess stores because we have Guess in Australia .” And I said , “We have two Guess stores in Australia, in Sydney .” I said, “But you know the problem? I don’t pay very well . I own the pictures forever and ever. Nobody knows you , and if we ‘re lucky, you would be known but you will be a girl that nobody knows and it’s a big girl, Anna Nicole Smith.” She said, “Who is she?” I said, “She is a girl, big – I mean , tall, but beautiful. With the right makeup and hair, you will love to shoot that girl.” She said okay.
INGRID SISCHY : Jesus.
PAUL MARCIANO : l mean, it’s crazy.