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Behind The Making of a Campaign with Art Director Claudia Palatchi

Fashion imagery can make us dream. And ad campaigns convey fascinating ways of storytelling. Through a cinematic visual language, we’re presented with a mood or a feeling, and we’re often transported to a different time and place that ignites our imagination.

If you’ve ever wondered how these stories come together, and what goes into preparing, producing, and creating the campaign for a collection, you’re about to find out! We had Art Director of PDPAOLA, Claudia Palatchi, walk us through her creative process.

Campaign planning begins weeks before the shoot, when Paola Sasplugas, the designer and owner of the brand, discusses the first ideas with Palatchi. Then, Sasplugas trusts her to take the direction of the campaign and to develop further ideas amongst the creative team comprising the photographer and makeup artist. Usually, the stylist participates in this process as well, but in this case, Palatchi also does all the fashion styling.

I need to have all the jewels of the collection in front of me, so I can touch them, try them on, and get a sense of how I can play around with them,” says Palatchi. “If the pieces have stones, for example, I need to think about what message they convey, the colour combinations, etc. From this, I get a mini-vision that kickstarts the main idea.”

Then Palatchi creates a moodboard, which is usually the foundation of every photoshoot. Moodboards include colours, patterns and possible visual references that, more or less, capture the idea that the designer and the art director have for the shoot.

I always have one main photo, which is the primary reference, then a word and a phrase, which encapsulates everything. There has to be a meaning behind it; this way, the essence of the pieces and the message that we want to convey comes across clearly,” says Palatchi.

When planning campaigns, Palatchi explains that she and Paola usually come up with a Plan A and a Plan B. “Plan A usually works, but sometimes, we’ve had to deviate from the original idea if something else is working better.

The moodboard and plans also help Palatchi determine what kind of location, model and overall aesthetic would be the most suitable for the campaign. Palatchi explains that some collections have bigger statement pieces, so it’s preferable not to add too many other elements. But other smaller collections are a bit trickier to show as they need a setting that makes them stand out without overwhelming the pieces. In the case of Arizona, for example, the figures “have a lot of elements with which we can play around.”

It’s always the case that, whatever the concept of the collection, the inspiration is always shown subtly and never too literally. For example, the Arizona collection was shot on a dusty, arid landscape that sat against desert-like vegetation and a clear blue sky. “It encapsulated perfectly what we wanted,” says Palatchi. But the idea was not to make the ‘Wild West’ theme too obvious.

When it comes to the model, the goal is always to find a girl who fits well with the concept and mood of the story. However, Palatchi explains that their aim is to allow for diversity and mix things up in every campaign by casting girls with different looks, styles, and ethnicities.

Then, usually drawing inspiration from the main concept of the collection, Palatchi puts together two or three full fashion looks: one with more of an “editorial” feel and another that is more down-to-earth so that women can get an idea of how to wear the jewelry with their clothing in real life.

A third look is often photographed to offer social media more options and material. However, in some cases, depending on the collection and number of models that will be photographed, fuller looks could be necessary.

For example, in the case of Arizona, Palatchi chose to complement the model’s outfit with a pair of cowboy boots “that reference one of the charms, and a brimmed hat that adds to the Western mood without being too literal.” She goes on to explain that she wants the looks to be stylish but wearable. "It's a subtle cowgirl inspiration," she says.

It takes a great amount of creative vision, confidence, and a talented team with good rapport to create on-brand campaigns that resonate with fans and can ultimately elevate the brand to the next level. But regardless of the talent and creativity involved, no campaign would be successful if those labouring behind the scenes weren’t attuned to the brand’s followers—they are, after all, the muses that inspire us in everything we do at PDPAOLA.