Liu Bolin and Annie Liebovitz Collaborate for Moncler’s genius SS17 campaign

Sans binoculars and a map, I’m regularly on the lookout for content that will jump out at me from the depths of the media landscape. 

Going through New York magazine’s fashion issue earlier today, I was almost caught off-guard when I came upon an entrancing Moncler ad featuring the famed Chinese disappearing performance artist Lou Bolin. In a brilliantly choreographed photo, Bolin’s chameleon-like silhouette disappears into a backdrop of wonderfully disorganized books and papers. Exactly the type of exotic and invigoratingly unique content I’m most enthralled by, I was immediately intrigued. 

Lensed by none other than Annie Leibovitz, Moncler’s new SS17 campaign nurtures a boundary-pushing collective vision between Leibovitz and Bolin. The results are nothing short of extraordinary.

Liu Bolin, photographed by Annie Liebovitz, for Moncler’s SS17 campaign.

Grazia culture editor Nicholas Carolan lays out the wondrousness of Moncler’s new Liu-and-Leibowitz-starring campaign: “Liu and Leibovitz’s collaboration verges on the surreal and borrows from the Chinese artist’s singular oeuvre: unassuming photographs in which the artist blends into some of the world’s most iconic backgrounds, usually with the intent of voicing protest, or airing the artist’s political and social commentary.”

Speaking of his work with Moncler, Bolin explains that “the collaboration with Moncler shows [his] intention of inviting individuals to experience, and to contemplate art in everyday life. As we stand at the intersection of the postindustrial and virtual age, the interrelationship among modern technology, man-made landscapes, and human beings themselves has become the point of departure in my works.”

A behind-the-scenes photo of Liu Bolin and Annie Liebovitz. Image from Moncler.

Although the SS17 campaign marks the first time Bolin has collaborated with Moncler, it is certainly not the artist’s first foray in the fashion industry. In 2012, Liu collaborated with BAZAAR to create a series of photographs where esteemed fashion designers, such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Lanvin’s Alber Elvaz, did the disappearing themselves and got lost in their own fashion.

For Leibovitz, working with Moncler is nearly a past time considering how this is her fifth campaign with the French luxury brand. For FW15, Leibovitz created a Nordic fairy tale, drawing inspiration from Hans Christian Anderson’s Snow Queen and  J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels. Looking at Leibovitz’s work for FW16, where she explored surrealism, but in a more sci-fi-like manner, the esteemed photographer’s work for SS17 seems like the evolution of surrealist curiosities.

To me, Moncler’s SS17 campaign exudes brilliance not only for combining the geniuses of two incredibly unique artists, but for its exemplary positioning. At the intersection of nature and the imaginary, the concept explored in the campaign is, quite literally, a breath of much needed fresh air. In espousing minimalism amidst such chaotic times, Moncler is tastefully branding itself as an elevated alternative to flashiness and materialism. Contrary to the exclusivity that high fashion entails, Moncler’s campaign offers a trompe l’oeil that can be enjoyed by all.

Beijing, 2011: Liu Bolin, the disappearing man, blends into soda at the grocery store. AP Photo for The Atlantic.
Beijing, 2011: Liu Bolin disappears into shelves of vegetables at a Beijing supermarket. Reuters/China Daily.
2012: Jean Paul Gaultier disappears in BAZAAR’s collaboration with Liu Bolin. Image from BAZAAR.
2012: Angela Missoni x BAZAAR x Liu Bolin.
2012: Lanvin’s Alber Elvaz x BAZAAR x Liu Bolin.
Liebovitz x Moncler, FW15: a Nordic fairytale. Image from Crash.
Leibovitz x Moncler, FW16: “A Surrealist Fantasy.” Image from Crash.

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