This Tunisian-born art director with a French mother and an Italian father is an icon of German fashion. How come? Marc Ascoli was the creative mind behind the groundbreaking Jil Sander advertising campaigns from the late 90s where together with photographer Nick Knight and models Tatjana Patitz and Linda Evangelista he created images or better a definitive image for the Hamburg-based designer, which is still on fashion peoples’ minds today. Let’s face it, it had always been clear that Jil Sander’s clothes were not the ultimate in fashion but sophisticated tailoring in top fabrics. Hence, the image created around them was key to the global success of the brand. Ascoli’s campaigns were esoteric and dreamlike, creating a world of sheer and aspirational beauty. He has somewhat of a big comeback at the moment as well. Recently taken on by industry power agents Art + Commerce as creative director he is back in the game of producing arresting images for big clients. Currently, very impressively so for Paco Rabanne and its designer Julien Dossena. We sat down with Ascoli in his beautiful studio on Rue Sainte-Anne in Paris to get to the bottom of his creativity.
Achtung Mode: Your background story?
Marc Ascoli: I studied law in Nanterre but I was going out in Paris all the time where I met Martine Sitbon. She was looking for an attaché presse and so I did that for her. As I was obsessed with cinema and photographers like Avedon and Penn, we realized I had a sense for images and that’s what led to doing l’image for Martine.
AM: What are you most proud of?
MA: The stuff I created when I was totally in charge. Today it is more about collaborations and the brand itself. Back then, when a client did 200 millions in turnover it was huge. Now, brands have billions in turnover. But since you ask, the last thing was the March 2017 issue of W magazine with Edward Enninful and photographers Mert and Marcus and Steven Meisel. When I look at it, I still love it.
AM: How did that happen?
MA: Edward was discovered by Nick Knight and I discovered Nick Knight. I saw Edward grow and grow from American Vogue to W. First he did a W issue with Terry Jones and he followed the idea about collaborating with his mentors. So he came to see me.
AM: What’s your secret?
MA: I can elevate quality. I have been in school for quality. I am quality because of my experience of three decades out there. I don’t believe in accidents. Everything is planned and prepared with me. And I love what I do and I am over 60 now.
AM: Tell me about Paco Rabanne.
MA: I like when I have full freedom to work, when I am given trust. Julien is giving me full control. He commissioned an original score from me so that’s why the work is strong and unclassable. First, I do a scenario in my head and then I write it down and I do mood boards using my library. I buy books for more than 3000 euros a year and I get a lot of gifts from the best publishers.
AM: Your outlook?
MA: I have hope. I feel, change is coming. Things are going in a more pure direction, cleaner. The mercenary spirit to take the money and run is going out of fashion. There is more soul coming back. There is a longing for realness.
This article appeared first in Achtung Mode Nr. 35 (March 2018).