Tete – a – Tete

By Gloria Mattioni

 

On the right, Paul Marciano, co-founder of Guess. Behind him a picture of Claudia Schiffer. On the side, from the top, three beautiful Guess Girls: Gigi Hadid, Eva Herzigova, Kate Upton. They all express a confident and carefree femininity.

 

Jeans that makes you pretty (but also free and conscious)?

Its name is Guess and this year it celebrates its 35th anniversary proposing us the Denim Day. Because Paul Marciano believes in dreams…

 

Charismatic, with a French accent giving his spoken English a special allure, Paul Marciano, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Guess, is perfectly at ease walking around the huge “campus” of the brand in Downtown Los Angeles. Here conference rooms are named after the famous Guess Girls with their precise identity, models proposing the image of an independent, cheerful and self-confident woman.

The brand just celebrated its 35 years of history – it was founded in 1981 – with the capsule collection “1981: Guess Originals” with Hailey Baldwin. “Of course at that time I couldn’t imagine coming to work every morning, but here I am. I really love my job. My brothers and I (Maurice, still working for Guess, while George and Armand started different careers) had a store in France (the family company, MGA, worked in the fashion sector, ed.), in 1977 we came to L.A. on holiday and we literally fell in love with this city. So we thought of expanding our business here too. Stone washed denim didn’t exist in U.S. at that time. We were the first to launch it with a sexy image. Our famous model Marilyn, with its sexy silhouette and its three zippers was sold as hot cakes at Bloomingdale’s. It is the one worn by Claudia Schiffer in the iconic 1989 campaign, an essential part of our Guess Originals”.

What guided you in this experience?

“The words wonder, passion, freedom keep being our mantra. Our Dna is: sexy, independent, daring. The ideal Guess woman is a mix between Brigitte Bardot, Sofia Loren and Marilyn Monroe. She looks naïve but she is not. She accepts she is not perfect. Our girls, today top models or famous actresses, were total strangers when we discovered them: from Carla Bruni to Gigi Hadid up to the most recent one, Hailey”.

Inspired by 1950s movies, your campaigns were a real game changer…

“I remember our first time in Laguna Beach. I was the creative director, the model was Deidre Mcguire and the photographer had never done any fashion shootings. But the police wanted a license. So, a few months later we travelled to the New Mexico desert with the same mini-troupe. Herb Ritts was at his very beginnings: he made the campaign for us. The Guess Girl had to be unknown and different from the mainstream glossy images appearing on magazines, with no makeup and a laid-back hairstyle. Before the advent of the web, magazines advertising was the main source of inspiration for women who immediately rushed to the boutiques. Claudia Schiffer played a crucial role establishing Guess worldwide”.

How do you follow Millennials?

“My 20-year old son, Nicolai, also works for the company. He brought designer Asap Rocky to us: last year his Originals Capsule was a great success among youngsters. Who are basically not so loyal to brands and want to be different and like the charm of vintage, of garments that have not been around for 25 years. But we want to make clothes for everyone, including 80-year old people…”

 

Hurray for the Denim Day

For the third consecutive year Guess Foundation Europe will take part in the global event supporting the fight against violence on women. Launched 16 years ago by the association Peace Over Violence, the denim day was born as a reaction to a decision of the Italian Supreme Court, that suspended a sentence for rape because at the time of the violation the victim was wearing a pair of tight jeans: according to the magistrates, it would have been impossible to take them off without her consent. In protest against that, the following day the Italian female members of parliament went to the Chamber of Deputies wearing jeans. This garment has become a real symbol and the Denim Day has turned into a global campaign. The event arrived in Rome on 4th May with the participation of Paul Marciano: “This is the political centre of Italy. We hope this will help us raise awareness on the issue among magistrates, lawyers and the police”. But that’s not all: for each denim piece sold from May 20th to May 27th (some examples on the right) 10 euros will be donated to Di.Re, Donne in Rete contro la violenza.

 

Hailey Baldwin, daughter and granddaughter of artists, celebrates the Denim Day wearing a jacket from the capsule collection “1981: Guess Originals”.

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