by Jeremy Danté

very few designers will ever reach the status of the house of chanel. over time, the house have proved to be groundbreaking for their slashing of the pre-established, coco chanel being cited as the first to use black as a fashion color through the birth of the little black dress. now, in the modern day industry, for nearly 30 years, karl lagerfeld has successfully taken the reigns at the iconic house, keeping it in the news & on trend with the latest celebrity faces, in an effort to dominate the luxury market- which it has. the house has become known for using the biggest & brightest faces of fashion & film for various advertising. their most iconic face in history? marilyn monroe. who was the first major face for the brand, used for it’s no. 5 fragrance. along with actresses keira knightly & nicole kidman; it’s always exciting to see which faces karl will choose season after season. while very few discussions of chanel can be made without the constant use of ‘iconic’; i feel  that in recent years the house has won by default. during show season, chanel’s shows are always a hot ticket & with good reason, considering the houses place in fashion history. but for me, i’ve been consistently underwhelmed by the houses couture & ready-to-wear concepts. no doubt, largerfeld is a master showman; he delivers some of the greatest show ideas, which seemingly overshadow the clothes or act as a method of distraction considering the clothes them selves are the same, conceptually, each season. that said, my side eye of the collections simmers by the time campaigns roll around & i actually really loved the direction & casting of chanel’s summer/spring 2012 campaign.

joan smalls has been a name that has floated around the industry for a minute. while it may seem as though ms. smalls has gained overnight notoriety, rapidly garnering an undeniable presence in high fashion; most cases of ‘overnight’ anything are only the ending of a prelude of struggle, hesitation, fear & missed opportunity. for joan, her career initially took off with more commercial forms of modeling & then transformed overtime to the now high end work that she does. as one model i’ve watched very closely in the past couple of years, considering all that she has become involved with now- im stunned that joan has yet to grace the cover of any international vogue, in her own solo cover. as only the second female model to be cast for the chanel campaign, following brandi quinoñes who appeared for chanel circa 1994, joan appears beautifully alongside one of lagerfeld’s faves, saskia de brauw. saskia has proven to be a favorite of karl’s, infamously he’s had no qualms about having his favored do just about everything he’s involved with, appearing for his KARL diffusion line look book, as well as an appearance for chanel’s resort 2012 campaign. as for joan, this chanel campaign was one of the first to debut for the spring advertising season & more campaigns she was cast for are surfacing as well. with karl’s love for greyscaled imagery living & breathing once again, the campaign is well conceptualized & proves to be cohesive from the collection’s inspiration & even the runway shows production & set design. sea shells, sea horses & pearlized tones were seen scattered all throughout the collection & that same oceanic/seashore aesthetic is beautifully captured in this campaign. the house of chanel has become distinctively associated with masculine design lines, which are well represented in the collection, as well as those lines being showcased in the campaign. aside from the clearly referenced seaside theme, i loved the use of gymnastic banisters & how strong a presence both girls have, both in their solo & coupled shots. overall, the casting of the campaign is what sets it apart from the rest. as thrilled as i was to see joan walking the runway for this collection, i am even more thrilled to see her being cast for major luxury campaigns, like chanel. not only an accomplishment for her portfolio, but as an accomplishment for the further diversification of ethnic models in the mainstream, joan has allowed another dimension of beauty to be represented. for that, joan remains a star in my eyes & i continue to support, promote & commend her incredible work. go behind the scenes with joan & saskia on the shoot of the spring campaign here.

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