Rihanna ups her campaign game, graduating from Armani Exchange to Balmain for their Spring/ Summer 2014 campaign. Shot by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin in what looks like a never-before-used ‘80s Russian bathhouse designed by Sol Lewitt, the two released images channel some major Gianni Versace circa Reagan-era decadence. Gold! Gold! Gold! More goddamn gold!
The unapologetically pop move on the part of the house’s 27-year-old creative director Olivier Rousteing reflects a younger interpretation of the brand, having taken the reins following Christophe Decarnin’s 2011 nervous breakdown. (BT-dubs: If rumors that Kanye West has hired Decarnin for his not-at-all-anticipated return to Paris Fashion Week, we can expect the ex-Balmain designer will be heading right back to the loony bin. #masochist)
Of course celebrities are nothing new when it come to campaigns. Kristen Stewart was recently named the new face of Chanel for Mr. Lagerfeld’s Texas-themed Pre-Fall ads, following a decidedly apropos turn at Balenciaga in 2012. Then you’ve got Jennifer Lawrence, whose appointment at Dior seems almost tongue-in-cheek, given she’s one of the most deliciously, refreshingly, charmingly unladylike ladies in Hollywood right now, a PR company’s worst nightmare and my own personal dream. Sticking someone as candid and casual as J. Law in a gown seems almost farcical when all you want to do is meet her at a bar and knock back some beers together. But hey, girl cleans up nice. Can’t fault her that.
Rihanna, for her part, reflects the absurd decadence of Balmain, whose customers are used to forking out the cash equivalent of a monthly house mortgage on a pair of bedazzled pants. (Oh, but yes, sometimes they are amazingly bedazzled pants.) While I secretly yearn for the dusty romance and rock star’s girlfriend vibes of the previous campaigns – Nadja Bender casually standing in the kitchen of a British tenement building, Kate Moss lounging impractically on a vinyl couch, Daria Werbowy being, well, Daria fucking Werbowy – casting Rihanna as the latest face displays Balmain’s unabashed admittance to what it really is: gratuitously expensive Vegas chic that only multi-platinum pop stars can afford.