Luxury doesn’t sell itself — despite what we sometimes think.
Although the luxury goods market has been somewhat insulated during the economic roller coaster of the past few years, it’s still a competitive space and brands are constantly looking for an edge keep them front and center in the minds of their well-heeled clientele.
Which explains, in part, why La Perla has opened its wallet to hire some high-priced talent to promote its next lingerie offerings.
The Italian luxe brand recently unveiled a trifecta of international supermodels who will front its new campaign, which was shot by superhot fashion photo duo Mert + Marcus. The new La Perla pitchgirls include:
La Perla has deliberately stayed away from celebrity supermodels in recent years, partly because it didn’t need the brand recognition generated by a familiar face, and partly because its glamorous products inevitably showed up on supermodels in fashion magazines anyways (so why bother paying for it?).
Instead, the company went with the modeling world’s equivalent of the girl-next-door: lesser-known models whose classic looks appealed to a broad range of customers but who lacked the star power that might distract viewers from the carefully scripted composition of its incredibly elaborate photo campaigns.
That approached helped build the portfolio of such models as New Yorker Alexina Graham (seen in this fall’s Spanish-themed shoots) and Brazilian Jeisa Chiminazzo, who modeled both last spring’s Sicily-set campaign and 2011’s memorable Mad Men photoshoot.
With next spring’s campaign, however, La Perla is counting on recognizable celebrities to drive its current effort to reboot its brand. And the casting couldn’t be more strategic — associating the La Perla brand with three very different kinds of women, geo-targeted to appeal to specific markets.
Cara D, only 21, represents the young, upwardly mobile Mayfair girl who lives on social media and wears her mischievous spirit like a badge. It doesn’t hurt that she’s one of the world’s most in-demand models of the moment and something of a role model for countless young women in Britain — a key market for La Perla.
On the other hand, Malgosia (below), now 36, has an iconic status among European glamoristas — La Perla’s traditional core market — and her enduring beauty presents a richly appealing subtext to continental women entering their prime.
Most telling, though, is La Perla‘s choice to use Liu Wen, the Chinese model who (like Cara) can be seen in next week’s Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Liu is a bona fide Gen Y supermodel and, more important, a megastar in her home country.
La Perla has been courting the vast Chinese lingerie market aggressively since 2007, opening numerous boutiques, staging live fashion events to build brand awareness and even creating 2012’s memorable ‘Year of the Dragon‘ collection to woo its Asian audience. But high-priced lingerie that often doubles as outerwear is a hard sell in a country where intimates are still viewed primarily as functional garments and the underwear-as-outerwear trend clashes with traditionally cautious fashion tastes.
The image of Liu Wen in a sheer bodysuit with embroidered florettes (above) will be much admired in Western countries next spring. But in China it could be the start of a new cultural revolution.