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PARIS — Louis Vuitton takes its travel heritage to a new place with its end-of-year campaign: a dream world in which model Arizona Muse lands in Venice’s Piazza San Marco on a hot air balloon and ends up being serenaded by none other than David Bowie in a magnificent palazzo.
Vuitton is to unveil a short film, in which Bowie performs a unique version of “I’d Rather Be High” while playing the harpsichord, via a new app on Nov. 7, with print ads and television commercials to make their debut Nov. 10. Cinema ads are to be layered on at the end of November.
“The film is all about traveling through time, and sharing an incredible moment,” said Frederic Winckler, Vuitton’s communication and events director, who showed off 60-second and 90-second versions of the film directed by Romain Gavras, perhaps best known for his M.I.A. music videos.
The transporting clip sees Bowie’s tune become the soundtrack to a sumptuous and fantastical ball — before Muse opens her eyes to an empty room and departs, this time on an ancient Chinese boat.
Snagging Bowie for the campaign caps off a banner year for the music legend that included his first studio album in a decade, “The Next Day,” and an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London that has moved on to the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. It also continues a tradition Vuitton set in recent years with its popular Core Values spots featuring unexpected celebrities such as Mikhail Gorbachev and Keith Richards.
Winckler marveled at Bowie’s appeal across different age groups and how he, like Vuitton, “moves through time,” unveiling new personalities and charting new creative fields.
No stranger to Vuitton, the music star has recently worn designs by men’s studio and style director Kim Jones for performances and video clips, Winckler noted: “He’s a client and someone who has a natural link with the brand.”
WWD broke the news on Sept. 26 that Bowie would appear in the new Vuitton spots, the latest episode in its “L’Invitation au Voyage” campaign, whose first episode garnered more than 20 million views on YouTube.
Winckler said he met Bowie in New York, and the script — and the harpsichord idea — won him over. “He liked the character, the role he was asked to play,” he said.
The new spots exalt Vuitton’s new Vivienne bag, from which Muse retrieves a musical score as the only evidence of her musical adventure in Venice. She also wears Monogram Idylle gold jewelry and an outfit from its Icons collection.
Bowie sports a new interpretation of Vuitton’s Tambour watch.
The French luxury group is using the Bowie-Muse campaign to introduce a new app called Louis Vuitton Pass, which allows consumers to scan an icon with a smartphone or tablet to access additional content, including making-of films — and a world exclusive of the new campaign. The mini film and making-of are to be posted on YouTube and Vuitton’s Web site on Nov. 8.