Priyanka Chopra Makes History

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“SHE WAS CROWNED FIRST RUNNER UP AT THE FEMINA MISS INDIA PAGEANT AND WENT ON TO REPRESENT INDIA AT MISS WORLD. SHE WON THE TITLE MAKING HER THE YOUNGEST CONTESTANT TO BE CROWNED AT ONLY 18.”

“You’re it. It has to be you,” said Paul Marciano the creative director of Guess after only a cursory glance at Priyanka Chopra. He was in search of the face for his next campaign. As one of the largest and most iconic fashion empires the world has ever known, Guess has run campaigns that regularly feature supermodels
(Kate Upton, Claudia Schiffer, Anna Nicole Smith) and Hollywood starlets (Drew Barrymore), but Priyanka Chopra brought something new to the table; her ethnicity. And not just any ethnicity, but the South Asian variety to be precise. She is the first Indian woman to front the fashion and apparel giant and the precedent will no doubt pave the way for other South Asian faces in fashion.

Dubbed a young incarnation of Sophia Loren by Marciano, fashion fiends had an idea of what Guess had in store for the new campaign. Vintage-inspired with black-and-white sepia overtones, Canadian rock ‘n’ roller Bryan Adams sat behind the camera lens—Chopra even opened up to us exclusively about a moment
that involved Adams serenading her on-location. He’s in fact such a big name in India that when she initially heard he would be shooting the campaign she didn’t believe it would be the actual rock star.

The campaign is a huge step for both Guess in regards to embracing diversity and Chopra as a global face. Considering the fashion label’s international reach and omnipresence in global premium fashion, the move is far less political than plain old good business sense.

Guess was founded in 1981 by Moroccan-born, French-raised Georges and Maurice Marciano. They opened their first store in Beverley Hills and were soon joined by their brothers Paul and Armand in the business venture. Previously, the brothers had owned a chain of apparel stores in France but shut it down to avoid a nine million French Frank tax bill. The store initially specialized in jeans designed by Georges; the name Guess was selected because the brothers struggled with English at the time and it was a word they could all pronounce. The triangle logo Guess has become known for featured prominently on the back pocket of the jeans, making the Marciano brothers pioneers in the designer denim movement of the ‘80s and ‘90s.

While 9/11 a year later and the recession resulting from the dot.com bust slowed the denim brand down, Guess struck back in 2004 with a campaign fronted by Paris Hilton who was incidentally also at her peak at the time in an effort to recapture customers and the glamorous image the brand was so well known for in the past. The high-profile collaboration also coincided with the launch of the Marciano brand. Named in homage of the Guess founders, Marciano was positioned as slightly higher-end focused on eveningwear and a resurrection of the now defunct designer jean of the early ‘90s.

Today Guess is a billion-dollar multinational retailer and one of the most renowned apparel brands in the world. Besides putting out a quality product beloved by their loyal customers for decades, they have perfected the sale of an image. Considering the growth in sales Western fashion is seeing in Asia, it’s no surprise Priyanka
Chopra is the face of Guess in 2014. Her look is not only in line with Guess’ voluptuous image, but she as a personality speaks to a nation of 1.2 billion that represent the future of premium fashion sales.

Priyanka Chopra’s fame is a product of the Indian Film Industry machine; like a cookie-cutter, the Indian Film Industry has churned out dozens of fresh faces over the past few decades that have and will front countless brands from diamonds to industrial building products. Chopra’s road to fame began like so many of her contemporaries. She was crowned first runner up at the Femina Miss India pageant and went on to represent India at Miss World. She won the title making her the youngest contestant to be crowned at only 18.

This win paved the way for Chopra’s prolific film career. Without making light of the dozens of blockbusters she’s put out since 2000 that include The Hero, Andaaz, Kaminey, Fashion and Barfi!, she only recently decided to make a crossover into Hollywood and American music. Her hit songs include “In My City” a collaboration with music producer Red One that became the theme song for the 2013 NFL season and “Exotic”, a club track featuring Pitbull. It’s also a little known fact that Chopra, in the grand tradition of A-listers everywhere, lent her voice to the Disney Animation Studio film Planes, as the Pan-Asian champion plane Ishani.

Clearly more than just a pretty face, Chopra has become the latest global face of South Asia. The actress once fondly known as ‘Piggy Chops’, has certainly come a long way. The Guess endorsement stands for so much more than yet another accolade for Chopra’s career. It’s the manifestation of the much-needed diversity the fashion industry has been so adverse to in recent years. Now let’s hope this paradigm shift is here to stay.

ONE-ON-ONE WITH PRIYANKA CHOPRA

PRIYA KUMAR HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO CATCH-UP WITH PRIYANKA CHOPRA ON A RECENT TRIP TO NEW YORK CITY. HERE’S WHAT SHE HAD TO SAY ABOUT HER WORK WITH GUESS, HER MUSIC CAREER AND WHAT SHE HAS IN STORE FOR FANS IN 2014.

You are the first South Asian face of Guess. How did the collaboration come about?
Whenever I have been asked to give glam references for photo shoots, more often than not, I’ve referenced a Guess campaign. The women are so classically beautiful, iconic, and feminine. To be honest, being a Guess girl was something that I would have never thought of, but when I met Paul (we were introduced by my hair stylist Peter Savic), within three seconds he said to me: ‘You’re it. It has to be you.’ For a major American fashion brand to move their campaign into a global space, well, it’s quite an honor.

Music icon Bryan Adams shot the campaign. In your opinion, what did he bring to the look and feel of the project?
Bryan is actually featured in one of the campaign ads, which is probably my favorite shot from the entire campaign! He is really amazing and such a pleasure to work with a true modern day renaissance man with captivating charm. We got along famously and I think that’s a lot of the reason why the photos turned out so
beautifully—we had great chemistry… not to mention that he serenaded me with song!

How does fronting a brand with an international presence like Guess differ from your work with South Asian brands like Ritu Kumar and Asmi?
My sentiment around this opportunity with Guess, to be the first South Asian face of a global fashion brand is so much more meaningful than I can articulate. This has given me the opportunity to break barriers and do things that are different from what is normally seen…making the world a little bit smaller.

You dropped a few muchpublicized singles in the past year. What can we look forward to in 2014 in terms of your music?
I’m getting ready to drop my next single in March, which is a really cool EDM version of Bonnie Raitt’s iconic song, ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’. Following that will be my album. That’s just the beginning for 2014.

Considering you’ve now successfully accomplished a music and fashion crossover in America, do you
have your eyes set on film next?
I don’t believe what I’m doing is a ‘crossover’. For me it’s all about being creative and creatively driven, and it doesn’t matter which country or language I do it in. Acting is my heart, and I’d love to have the opportunity to bring my talent to American cinema.

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