It may still be 85 degrees out, but if brands have anything to say about it, you’re already looking forward to winter — and dropping as much coin as possible in preparation. Hence the FW 17 campaigns, where all those clothes you saw on the runway months ago and promptly forgot about are styled to perfection in the hopes that you’ll fall so hard for them, you’ll just neglect silly things like paying the rent for next month (seriously, how are characters in movies always forgoing rent payments in favor of shoes and shit? Who are these ultra understanding landlords and where do I find one?) and buy, buy, buy. But not all campaigns are created equal, and that’s why we’re ranking them from most lust-inducing to, well, slightly less lust-inducing. And, seriously, sartorially understanding landlords of the world, get at me.
Gucci: Right now, Gucci is like that golden boy from your high school who can do absolutely no wrong, no matter how hard he seems to try. Sure, he might be failing History or whatever and he was totally drunk during that pep rally last week, but everybody kind of gives him a pass because he’s just so damn charming. Gucci’s FW campaign, which was shot by Glen Luchford and draws inspiration from Star Trek and vintage sci-fi movies, has not been without controversy, but the end result is still a cut above the rest. It’s weird, it’s moody, it’s romantic. It’s got aliens, crystal-embellished bodysuits, creatures from the sea, iridescent green facepaint, cat eye glasses, and even a cosmic kitten. It’s freakin’ Gucci! And in 2017, that’s all I really need to say.
Kenzo: It feels almost unfair to compare anything anyone else does to Kenzo because Humberto Leon and Carol Lim are so skilled at tapping into their vast network of admirers to create filmic campaigns that truly take on a life of their own. They realized a long time ago that the best way to get a wide range of people to look at your products is to embed them in something that’s about more than just fashion. And while this season’s release directed by Natasha Lyonne and starring Maya Rudolph, Fred Armisen, Macaulay Culkin, Waris Ahluwalia, and Leslie Odom Jr. won’t drop until September, if the brand’s other films are any indication, it’s going to blow everybody else out of the water. As for the still images, they’re strange, moody, and make us very excited to watch the flick — an advertisement for an advertisement, if you can believe it.
Miu Miu: Miu Miu’s signature aesthetic is funky, girly, and fun, and it’s hard to imagine a series of images that speak to that vibe better than these do. Shot by Alasdair McLellan at Preservation Hall and several other New Orleans locales, the campaign features Naomie Harris, Kate Moss, and Adwoa and Kesewa Aboah, plus the Preservation Hall Jazz Band themselves. It strikes that difficult balance between vintage-inspired and modern feeling while cultivating an energy that’s almost cinematic. The whole thing is enough to make even the most minimalist among us want to rock a sky-blue Muppet coat. Which is, of course, the point.
Helmut Lang: Helmut Lang is back, baby! Months after tapping Shayne Oliver as creative director and Isabella Burley as editor-in-residence, the brand released a set of edgy, black-and-white campaign images shot by Ethan James Green, featuring a veritable who’s who of the downtown fashion and art set that includes Alek Wek, Chris Kraus, Larry Clark, Kembra Pfahler and more. Presented alongside a host of other initiatives poised to re-establish the label as the cool kid brand of choice, the campaign has set the tone for what a reinvigorated Helmut Lang looks like in 2017. There’s even a hint of Millennial Pink for good measure.
Calvin Klein: There’s very little not to like about Raf Simons’s first ready-to-wear campaign for Calvin Klein, which was shot by Willy Vanderperre. It features a bunch of gorgeous, up-and-coming models styled in a way that’s both fresh and true to the brand’s All-American roots, and even gives the fashion-savvy viewer a knowing wink in the form of another Calvin Klein billboard in the background. I have a hard time believing this is the most interesting campaign Simons will produce during his time at the label, but hey, it’s always good to manage expectations by holding back a little at first.
Balenciaga: Demna Gvasalia’s Balenciaga is second only to Gucci (and perhaps that other Gvasalia-helmed brand, Vetements) in defining for us what the year 2017 looks like. And it’s hard to imagine a campaign that feels more in keeping with Balenciaga’s interpretation of that look than this one, shot by Johnny Dufort. With a minimalist, school picture day-inspired background, and styling that falls somewhere between ’80s librarian and contemporary French fashionista, it’s a sleek update to the beloved normcore aesthetic.
Stella McCartney: Holy hoarders, Stella McCartney! What is all that shit and how did you convince that model to lay in it? McCartney has made a career crafting high-end items sans leather and fur, and this campaign, which was shot at a landfill in Scotland, makes a strong statement about consumption — while still inviting us to consume McCartney’s lust-worthy tailored jersey garments, of course. Shot by Harley Weir in collaboration with the artist Urs Fischer, it proves that fashion doesn’t have to be completely frivolous.
Vivienne Westwood: It’s hard to dislike anything Vivienne Westwood does, and this campaign is no exception. Shot by longtime Westwood collaborator Andreas Kronthaler, it translates the designer’s merry-band-of-freaks vibe into a story about “a marvellous girl that is fishing the muddy waters of the river Danube. Besides catching many treasures, she finally manages to pull herself out from the ditch and joins her family members for a picnic on the Mexican border. Together they enjoy countless roasted delicacies that fall from the brickwall onto their royal porcelain plates. Luckily the Buddha with the fishy smile and the colonial nurse from Thailand are watching the party doesn’t get out of hand.” And, again, what’s not to like about a vision as specific as that?
Prada: Called “A City of Women,” Prada’s Willy Vanderperre-shot campaign is all about — you guessed it! — women. Women as individuals, women as a group, and the tendency of women (especially Prada-wearing women) to eschew easy classification. The images are both intense and unfussy and were apparently taken immediately following the brand’s FW 17 show in Milan, which seems like a good way to both capture the energy of a moment and save a few bucks.
Dior: Maria Grazia Chiuri’s work at Dior has been feminine, wearable (well, assuming you’re a celebrity on the red carpet), and of-the-moment, with the possible exception of that ill-advised, eye roll-inducing $710 “feminist” tee shirt. The brand’s latest campaign, which was shot by Brigitte Lacombe, effortlessly captures the strength and beauty of Chiuri’s designs. With a restrained color palette and models including Adwoa Aboah, Fernanda Ly, Grace Hartzel, the images aren’t the most exciting of the bunch, but they let the clothes speak for themselves. And if you’re the kind of person who covets denim coveralls and wispy evening gowns, they speak quite loudly.
Marni: This Marni campaign starring Ansley Gulielmi is pretty cool. The styling is good (I’ll never tire of power clashing), the blank face and aggressively fashion-y poses are a welcome departure from all the sexy preening that tends to fill out the ad pages of magazines, and I like the collage influence. That being said, it’s not going to change my life, or motivate me to drop four figures I don’t have on a silk dress. Though I suppose nothing could because, again, I don’t have it and my landlord isn’t chill.
Chanel: Karl Lagerfeld loves himself an It girl, and he’s got two in Lily-Rose Depp and Cara Delevingne, who deliver half-assed hugs while wearing matching Chanel hoodies that every streetwear girl worth her Supreme would probably part with a kidney to own. But aside from the famous, beautiful faces and the ubiquitous Chanel logos (what is it about those two interlocking C’s that just makes my pulse quicken?), there’s not a lot to latch onto here, other than speculation about whether or not these two can actually stand each other in real life.
Balmain: For some reason, Olivier Rousteing decided to photograph his own campaign this season. From a purely artistic standpoint, the black-and-white images of models like Lara Stone, Presley Gerber, and Natasha Poly vamping in the streets of Paris are pretty good, but the whole thing is just so… Balmain. Which is to say sexy, embellished, and aggressively attention-seeking, but ultimately kind of boring because it never really changes. Like, haven’t we already seen this collection five different times and on five different Kardashians?
Louis Vuitton: Louis Vuitton tapped rock royalty Riley Keough (granddaughter of Elvis Presley) and Jaden Smith (son of Will Smith) along with actresses Catherine Deneuve and Sophie Turner to star in this Bruce Weber-lensed campaign, but honestly, nepotism and famous faces do not an interesting photograph make. The clothes are fine, but the images themselves are lackluster, suffering from an absence of any cohesive theme or motif. I will give them props, however, for including a woman above the age of 35 in their shots, since the rest of the industry seems to operate under the pretense that women magically stop needing to buy clothes after this time.
Coach: It’s no secret among the fashion set that Coach has been killing it lately. Once a brand has descended into the depths of shopping mall ubiquity, it’s not easy to climb out, and in a few short seasons under Stuart Vevers, the house has done so with aplomb. Unfortunately, this Steven Meisel-shot campaign just isn’t my jam — it’s a little too sweet and young-feeling (Selena Gomez features prominently in several shots), which is something I’d imagine a brand once known for hawking monogrammed pochettes to suburban teenagers would want to steer clear of. Also, this band of subway-riding, Letterman jacket-clad, Coach bag-wielding models is giving me Mean Girls-induced anxiety.
Fendi: Look! It’s Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid with some giant F’s! How did they get up there on those F’s? Why did they get up there on those F’s? And can I, like, have their boots? All jokes aside, this Lagerfeld-lensed campaign is woefully uninspiring and hardly worth mentioning, except for the fact that it’s just so damn funny that they Photoshopped them onto these giant F things. Or, rather, I assume they Photoshopped them — there’s no way these F’s exist IRL, packed away for the season in a studio somewhere, right? Right?!
Versace: “Is putting a pink-haired Gigi Hadid at the center of a campaign enough to make it visually interesting?” asks Versace. The answer is, unfortunately, a resounding no. And that goes double for you, Missoni.