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Chic symbiose27/11/2008 - par Mark Tungate
I bumped into Sonia Rykiel this morning. The grande dame was sitting in an armchair in the middle of a new exhibition about her at the musée des Arts décoratifs here in Paris (107 rue de Rivoli). She looked perfectly calm as cameras flashed in her face, TV spotlights blinded her and journalists asked her questions she'd probably heard a million times before. Indeed, her eyes glittered as mischievously as if she was being interviewed for the first time.
The exhibition, Rykiel confirmed, is an intelligent and complete representation of her work: including the role of advertising. Alongside the clothes are sumptuous black and white ads shot by Dominique Issermann. It struck me that a long-term, mutually respectful partnership with a great photographer is an excellent way of building a durable brand identity. At the moment, Louis Vuitton has a good thing going with Annie Leibovitz. Marc Jacobs makes intelligent use of the photography skills of Juergen Teller. But it's hard to tell if these relationships are as symbiotic as Rykiel's seems to have been with Issermann. One can almost see the meeting of minds.
Fashion brands often claim they do not need advertising agencies - and that is their choice. But while they may not be looking for the big idea, they should be looking for a way to create a coherent universe that customers will want to step into. For Sonia Rykiel, Dominique Issermann fulfils that brief perfectly.