One of my loyal and discerning readers, AlbertCan, informed me a few days ago that according to Forbes, Natalia Vodianova had signed with Guerlain (among others) to front products in their advertising campaigns. The news he scooped (and allowed me to elaborate on, bless his generous heart) are that she is to front their iconic oriental, Shalimar.
Perfume Shrine couldn't leave this without some comment, naturally.
Natalia is gorgeous, of course. And her rags-to-riches fairy tale life story makes for interesting reading, peppered with the touches of iconography that fans want their eponymous role-models to assimilate (charity participation, loving family of her own etc). Hailing from the historical Novgorod, a seat of medieval princes (later, under Soviet rule, named Gorgy in honour of the writer Maxim Gorky), she is now a princess herself, married to a Viscount no less. The Cinderella touch...
She even has something nice to say about all the photographers who shot her:
"Paolo Roversi is really Italian and makes you feel so beautiful. Mario Testino has that incredible talent of making not only you but everyone around you feel very special. Steven Meisel is so organized and focused, and he always thinks about you as a person and makes sure you're comfortable. Patrick Demarchelier is like a big teddy bear, and a really nice person. And Bruce Weber is like Father Christmas--he never forgets about you. He's very generous."
Natalia's current image of super-polite ice-princess with a deer-in-the-headlights look somehow doesn't suit the idea of Shalimar as the uber-seductive, cunninigly selectioned potion in the galaxy of orientals; nor the brunette type of orientalised romantic ideal that Guerlain has been cultivating for years through the associations of the name with the Indian Gardens on which a great love story flowered. After Shalom Harlow and Fernanda Tavares, Natalia seems too blonde and too innocent(?) for this kind of job.
Additionally, there is also the issue of always choosing the whitest Caucasian women for big advertising campaigns of European houses, when it would be nice for a change if we saw a gorgeous black model or a Latina -I am not counting Tavares because she's not- for one of those brands (like Eva Mendes for Calvin Klein's latest Secret Obsession) or a genuine oriental type (remember Jasmin Ghauri?): if not for Shalimar, then for what? I am asking you!
On the other hand, some of the photos that Steven Meisel shot of Natalia for Vogue are definitely the stuff of oneiric gazing that doesn't involve labrador puppies and a house with a white fence in the suburbs... Nor does this one from French Vogue 2005. Same goes still for this photo-shoot for W magazine in 2006. Coincidentally, Paolo Roversi who is responsible for some of her most haunting portraits, has just shot the new print campaign for Shalimar.
Possibly, therefore, there are as many facets and as many pools of dangerous waters to a person as she is willing to plunge herself into!
I am thus eagerly looking forward to see how this advertising campaign for Shalimar featuring Natalia Vodianova will go. We will return with commentary soon!
EDITED TO ADD on 4th September:
An anonymous reader has been very kind in getting us a glimpse of the new campaign, so here it is:
Next we will be focusing on detail on the moves of the Guerlain brand, with an article that might instigate discussion.
And inspired by the new blood in the Shalimar project, we will be reviewing both the original and the flankers of this industrious and profitable for Guerlain monument of perfumery next week. Stay tuned!