A Shot in the Dark

Are designers who shoot their own campaigns control freaks or are they just having a little fun?

Like their clothes, Dolce & Gabbana's first campaign to be shot by the two, is hugely inspired by Sicily. The Italian label's Spring 2013 advertisement sees Domenico Dolce, 54, playing photographer and Stefano Gabbana, 50, as stylist. It's also a hark-back to a film by Luchino Visconti where the celebrated filmmaker shoots on-location using locals; Dolce & Gabbana places actor Monica Bellucci and socialite Bianca Brandolini d'Adda among a bunch of dark-faced locals.

Ever since fashion advertising began, designers have exerted a major control over what their advertising campaigns look like. Many have formed memorable associations with photographers. Calvin Klein used Steven Meisel to make young models look like sex kittens. Marc Jacobs has, for long, been using Juergen Teller's famous faded Polaroids. Closer home, Wendell Rodricks and Farrokh Chothia are old friends who work together. Chothia turns the Goan designer's seemingly simple garbs into ghost-like figures in motion.

Karl Lagerfeld, who has over 20 books as a photographer to his credit, is arguably as great with the shutter as he is with his sketchpad. His latest book came out earlier this year — a mesmerizing coffee-table oeuvre called The Little Black Jacket — that revisits the Chanel classic. The tome has no text, just over 100 photos in black-and-white of celebrity-models, actors, singers, socialites, designers and assorted fashion folk shot wearing the black tweed in different and interesting ways.

Dolce & Gabbana join a growing list of designers who shoot their own campaigns. Gabbana says of his new turn, "We didn't have to teach anyone what we want to do. I didn't have to explain what I feel." Tom Ford shoots both his men's and women's adverts. Hedi Slimane, who fronted Dior Homme's slim suits, left the megawatt fashion house only to move to California and pursue a career in photography. He returned to helm Yves Saint Laurent's rechristened Saint Laurent Paris this year and shoot his debut collection.

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