It was inevitable that the paths of Karl Lagerfeld and Dom Pérignon should cross. And so they have.
“I wanted to be an illustrator, a portraitist, even a tattoo artist, so I have a very graphic way of looking at things. I don’t believe in accidents, in chance, in things that happen and change the way I pictured things.”
Karl Lagerfeld is unquestionably the most prestigious star of the fashion world. Master of Haute Couture, fashion designer, photographer and publisher, he explores increasingly diverse fields of design with ever greater creativity, insatiable curiosity and a tireless sense of renewal. He is one of the peerless designers whose spirit Dom Pérignon shares and who, in turn, identifies with Dom Pérignon’s creative commitment.
When Dom Pérignon asked Karl Lagerfeld to create an advertising campaign for Dom Pérignon Vintage 1998, he instantly agreed.
Lagerfeld says, “You know, I don’t drink much alcohol. In fact, I only like Dom Pérignon. And I’m not being diplomatic when I say that the only champagne I really know is Dom Pérignon. And then, it’s a champagne that was born in the 17th century, a period and atmosphere I know well. I even have a fashion series on the theme that I created for Vogue France.”
The making of the advertising campaign
The campaign was shot in Paris at the beginning of spring 2005 in an 18th- century townhouse, whose pedigree, elegance and charm made it the obvious location of choice, an inspiring setting for this series of photos imbued with references to the aesthetics, atmosphere and social mores of the great libertine century.
Karl Lagerfeld explains, “For me, it’s a bit like the atmosphere a painting emits. It could be an 18th-century drawing by Moreau, certain 19th century paintings, as well as something modern – a film like Barry Lindon, for example, or a Pina Bausch dance. I have millions of visual references and I try to match them with the images I have in my head. And I have a very strong view of things, too. Most of the time this view is there from the very first photos I take. I wanted to be an illustrator, a portraitist, even a tattoo artist, so I have a very graphic way of looking at things. I don’t believe in accidents, in chance, in things that happen and change the way I pictured things. I see them in a certain way and there is no second choice, no acceptable replacement.”
Fast eye, fast shot, fast choice: Karl Lagerfeld works fast. With the same sure intuition and rapid judgment, he chose Helena Christensen to embody the heroine of his tableaux.
Says Lagerfeld, “I’ve known Helena for 16 or 17 years. As a photographer, she has always been one of my favorite women. I’ve worked with her a lot, and for me, she is not a model, she’s a friend. I hate working with people I don’t like. And then, a story like this one needs a personality. Someone who has something truly feminine and strong, who can handle the erotic atmosphere of this story, not some little ingénue with a little-girl-lost look. I like the idea of an experienced woman, who knows… You can see in her face that she’s seen a lot and lived a lot, and that she still enjoys it all.”
The shoot took two days. Two days of intensity, encouraged by the sensual atmosphere, the elegance of the setting and the pleasure of the people in being there.
Christensen says, “There was a slightly erotic feeling in the air, but handled with extreme elegance. It’s a bit like describing the feeling champagne gives you. And Karl is extremely good at drawing out emotions and feelings. It was like shooting a scene in a film with discreetly sexy lighting and champagne as the star.”
Lauren Scott, the campaign’s stylist, said, “Karl did a magnificent job with the lighting. It’s what creates the mix of sexy sensuality and allure that suits Dom Pérignon so well. We talked about it a lot. It was an extremely important element. That’s what makes it a pleasure to work with a master. You feel part of a team that creates something beautiful and is dedicated to achieving a certain result. Karl has an amazing ability to put people together and give you the freedom to create with him. It’s a real thrill.”