Marc Jacobs, designer par excellence and creative director for Louis Vuitton, was one of the millions who beheld the Madonna apparition known as the Sticky and Sweet Tour, last year’s highest-grossing concert. Already, it’s the all-time highest-grossing concert tour by any solo artist. Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson are probably writhing in their literal and proverbial graves.
Whenever the Queen of Pop holds court, her subjects (aka humankind) do not genuflect—they stand there, reminded of their relative diminutiveness in the face of musical sovereignty. Marc, who caught the concert in Paris’ Stade de France, confessed to being “totally blown away,” as anyone less-than-royal would.
But Jacobs is fashion royalty and, armed with this healthy self-awareness, proceeded to make what LV termed as an “amazing coup.”
Zut alors! For Antoine, Louis Vuitton’s communications director and son of LVMH head and French mega-billionaire Bernard Arnault, nothing could be more farfetched. He recalled how one Monday, Jacobs just broached the idea of Madonna plugging the French fashion house.
LV has done Jennifer Lopez before, but Antoine never believed it could now make off with the highest-selling female musician of all time. That Monday meeting, Marc then and there casually texted Madonna, asking, “Love, would you like to be the new Louis Vuitton woman?” Within minutes, Antoine was reading the diva’s reply: “Yes, I’d love to do it.”
In just a week, an ad was in the offing, a blitzkrieg resting on as much faith in the wisdom of Jacobs, an LV veteran, as in the Madonna brand. Arnault justifies: “Madonna is glamorous….a global image….the ultimate performer and businesswoman, and not someone who is just a famous singer.”
And with that the Material Girl became LV Girl for Spring/Summer 2009.
Here Madonna, 50, warps time two ways, first through a youth-inducing lifestyle that began long before Jacobs became famous. Given that, a 1940s-styled Parisian bistro was just the other thing in order for drop-dead nostalgia.
On these ads, Madonna models the newest ready-to-wear creations of Jacobs, plus a few “it” bags here and killer-heeled shoes there. The fishnets and yogic poses are the model’s own.
Those nods for authenticity could be saved though; the ads were not shot in Paris, but rather in Los Angeles. Although the photo shoot required a 50-strong crew, Madonna, the consummate artist, would finish the shots in just 15-minute durations.
Making things easy for Madonna was the presence of Steven Meisel as main shutterbug. The photographer had worked with Madonna in many projects, one of which was the diva’s pornographic 1992 coffee table book, Sex.
How much Madonna earned from this, LV has kept mum. Speculation has it she took home $10 million.
Seeing as how she is the richest and highest-paid female musician alive, the amount makes perfect atonement. The woman has that certain Midas touch advertising agencies and publicists could only dream of. Whatever the brand, Madonna turns it into gold.
No, scratch that: Madonna is the brand. There is virtually nothing as successful for galaxies, her single-minded ambition almost ethereal, the only thing longer than her years in the limelight, promoting herself.
Long may the Queen of Pop reign over us, marketing novices all.