Phillip Lim’s spring 2016 runway showing also marked the 10th anniversary of the 3.1 Phillip Lim label. “Stop and Smell the Flowers” was the theme for the runway show, which received a substantial amount of attention from the press, and is also the theme for the Phillip Lim spring 2016 campaign. Photographer Viviane Sassen was brought in for the third season by Lim, and they and a skeleton crew travelled out to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which is the hometown of Liya Kebede, the only model cast for the ad campaign.
Kebede was in charge of leading the photoshoot, and so she took the crew to the best places to capture the essence of the local culture. If the campaign was too staged, the product wouldn’t have been nearly as dramatic, but between Kebede’s direction and Sassen’s skill with a camera, they were able to capture shots of locals, Kebede’s family, and the unique scenery.
With the brand’s milestone anniversary, the press for the runway show was to be expected. But it would have been easy for this hype to drown out whatever came about in the campaign. This, however, was not the case. The crew was able to find the perfect backdrop for each garment, which helped everything come to life. Even though the label came out with its new pre-fall collection, the apparel in the spring line is still the esteemed anniversary line. Keeping that in mind, it is easy to remember how the looks stormed the runway, and to then compare it with this new platform, which brings the clothes to life. The whole ad campaign appears to be totally authentic, which is a big contributing factor to its success.
Since Kebede is in her hometown, she is able to fit in well between the people and scenery featured in the shoot. She is comfortable there in a way that no other model could have appeared to be, and the clothes fit her like a glove. Everything seems to be working perfectly together in the Phillip Lim SS 2016 campaign, especially the photos of the model with her family.
In one photo, Kebede is featured beside an older couple, who appear to be her parents, although it was not expressly stated in the campaign. She is smiling and laughing, just like the others, and the woman in particular is soaking up her moment in the spotlight with Kebede. This is the kind of positive cultural expansion that other brands have been trying (and failing) to accomplish in campaigns.
Seeing a result like this makes me wish other brands were able to get it right, because this is a truly remarkable campaign, from backstory and process to the final photos. When it comes right down to it, nothing can beat an authentic new cultural experience, especially when there are stunning clothes in the mix.
Make sure to keep an eye out for this campaign when it is released in the spring issues of media like AnOther, Dazed and Confused, Document Journal, The Gentlewoman, Harper’s Bazaar, The Last Magazine, Self Service, T Magazine, and WSJ Magazine.
Photos courtesy of Phillip Lim