As the new Justin Bieber/Lara Stone Calvin Klein ad is revealed, Object of Desire revisits another of the brand's iconic campaigns, reinterpreted by artist Marcela Gutiérrez
In 1992, Herb Ritts photographed a relatively unknown Kate Moss alongside aspiring rapper Mark ‘Marky Mark’ Wahlberg in a series of racy campaign images for Calvin Klein. The photographs provoked a media explosion, propelling the careers of both Moss and Wahlberg, and became one of the most iconic commercials of the decade. Only 17 at the time, Moss later confessed to Vanity Fair that the shoot had led to a nervous breakdown.
Calvin Klein ads have always courted controversy: 15-year-old Brooke Shields created a scandal in 1980 when she modeled the newly launched CK Calvin Klein Jeans label, closing with the provocative line, “You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.” Then there was Steven Meisel’s infamous 1995 advert, featuring young male models interviewed in a dimly lit wood-paneled basement. Borderline pornographic and uncomfortable to watch, the advert generated a public backlash which led to an investigation by the Justice Department. Never had a pair of jeans caused so much trouble.
Today, these advertisements may have lost their shock factor, but they stand as iconic visuals that define their era, exemplifying a "sex sells" ethos led by heroin chic, minimalist stonewash denim and youthful grunge. And the mood has returned, with fashion riding a wave of normcore and 90s throwbacks, in a season anchored by denim. It therefore comes as no surprise that Calvin Klein has re-launched a selection of their key pieces from the 90s: hooded CK slogan tops, baggy boyfriend jeans and logo-stamped waistbands.
For our latest Object of Desire, we asked artist Marcela Gutiérrez to reinvent the iconic Kate Moss x Mark Wahlberg campaign in two hyperreal collages. “I was looking at the work of John Stezaker,” Gutiérrez explains. “Inspired by his work, I decided to place each image twice, with Kate entangled in Mark Wahlberg’s arms, which makes it feel a bit bizarre at a first glance and yet incredibly sexy. You almost have to look twice to understand what is going on and I think that was also the point of these campaigns when they were released.”
Words by Mhairi Graham