Nicolas Ghesquière, artistic director at Louis Vuitton, has unveiled a first look at its Spring/Summer 2016 ad campaign on Instagram, revealing a fresh modelling direction to extend its audience.
Most notably, Jaden Smith – 17-year-old American actor, rapper, Twitter star and son of actor Will Smith – features as the prominent face of the French fashion house's womenswear collection. Alongside female models, Smith appears as a young man who just so happens to wear female clothes.
Other fashion and beauty brands are also leveraging current conversations around liberating gender expressions. New York label Marc Jacobs features transgender film director Lana Wachowski in its S/S 16 campaign, while US beauty brand Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics used a bearded male model to promote its lipstick range in December 2015.
In a more fantastical choice, Louis Vuitton's S/S 16 Series 4 collection is fronted by Lightning, a character from Japanese developer Square Enix's Final Fantasy video game franchise. The French fashion house collaborated with Square Enix and its designer Tetsuya Nomura to create faithful virtual versions of Series 4 for Lightning to wear in a series of print and video ads.
As noted in our December 2015 Pop Culture Update, digital culture is blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. This holds particularly true in Asia-Pacific markets, where digitally created idols have considerable pop-culture clout, and the gaming sector has a large share of the entertainment market.