by ALESSANDRA DE PINTO
Strong, independent, self-confident and obviously beautiful: distinguishing marks of the Guess girls. A female category created 35 years ago by PAUL MARCIANO, the man who revolutionized denim giving it a super sexy twist.
WOMEN changed his life. And how many women’s lives did he change? Impossible to say, the number of female models Paul Marciano discovered is really huge. Claudia Schiffer, Estelle Lefébure, Carla Bruni, Carré Otis, Shana Zadrick, Karen Mulder, Eva Herzigova, Anna Nicole Smith, Laetitia Casta, just to get an idea. When he put his eyes on them (artistically speaking, just to make things clear) they were perfect strangers, but this man has always been able to see past that and, when consecrating them as Guess girls, he knew he was placing them on their way to success and fame.
Of the four brothers (the others are Armand, Maurice and Georges) who 35 years ago started this adventure he has always been the beauty hunter. He has never stopped doing it, but over the years he has adjusted his tone, combining his nose as talent scout with a commitment towards the defense of women: since 1994 he has been actively engaged in the work of the Guess Foundation, an organization born to fight any form of violence. This summer he told us about his great obsession as native of Marseilles migrated to California to pursue his dream. We were in Rome, at Palazzo Barberini, celebrating the Denim Day.
Why leaving France to move to the West Coast?
I was just looking for a better climate and lots of sun. I went there on holiday, a couple of weeks that then became two months and, almost without realizing it, I had already bought a house.
Mister Marciano, all your popular advertising campaigns have a fil rouge: the Guess girls hardly have short hair. Is that a precise choice or pure coincidence?
I am happy to talk about that. There’s actually very few models with short hair, although this is not done on principle. My idea of women was shaped by the cinema, watching 1950’s movies with Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot: beautiful, sexy, charismatic women. Each of my girls has something that reminds of those beauties, my instinct has always guided me towards that direction. They are my muses; they would still be even with a boyish haircut.
What’s the x factor of a Guess girl?
She must be feminine, sensual, strong, self-confident, independent, free and happy, especially with herself.
Are you happy?
Yes, very happy. And nobody ever gave me anything for free.
You created disruptive advertising images and you are also the manager who promoted the growth of Guess worldwide. Who really is Paul Marciano?
A creative guy who had to play the role of a businessman to protect the most valuable thing he had. Nobody knows the brand better than me.
Why have you always avoided working with well-known models?
Guess is a precise idea that must be interpreted with strong conviction. Investing on unknown girls gives me the possibility to shape them on a product that is not only a commercial proposal, but also a mental attitude. No matter what you wear (a pair of jeans or shorts, a tight shirt), what is important is how you wear it. Style doesn’t exist without personality.
Instagram, the social media, the Internet: now it is much easier to discover new faces. How did you identify the future top models?
Watching hundreds of photos, often polaroid photos, and trusting my instinct.
Who is the girl who made you ‘wow’ at first sight?
Claudia Schiffer. In the most popular shooting of the 1989 campaign by photographer Ellen von Unworthy (another talent discovered by Paul) you couldn’t even see the jeans, it was just her. A lace corset, blond hair tied up in a natural way, a pair of earrings, a B.B.-style frowning face: a new star was born. And the Guess logo in red standing out on a black-and-white background image.
Do you think you revolutionized fashion?
I just gave my contribution to it, I do it every day working for my company, but also supporting the cause of women’s defense, helping in hospitals, in the society, wherever it’s needed. When you achieve such great results and you have a fulfilling life you must be able to give to those who are less lucky than you.
You are a great art enthusiast. What if Guess was a painting?
It would be a field of flowers or the flight of a butterfly.