Over 20 years after famously working with Diesel on its iconic ‘kissing sailors’ ad, which positioned the company in a culture of growing political and social awareness, celebrated photographer and filmmaker David LaChapelle created the famous ‘Make Love Not Walls’ campaign for the Italian fashion house. In collaboration with Diesel and developed with Anomaly Amsterdam, LaChapelle’s award-winning multidisciplinary campaign launched with photography, a short film, and installations that traveled around the globe, putting forward a timely message that paid tribute to inclusion, love, diversity, and fraternity.
Every day, we rise. We are the mad ones. The lovers of freedom.
The lovers of inclusion.
The lovers of creativity.
The lovers of love.
We rally against hate. And bigotry. And fear. We climb. We leap. We blow through walls.
And we do all of this by dancing. By singing. By creating.
We do it by loving and fucking OUR way to a better tomorrow.
It makes us bold. And colorful.
And wonderfully complicated. With a grin on our yellow, brown, off-white faces, We ignore reason and limitation and judgment. We follow only our wandering, mischievous hearts.
We wear Diesel as our uniform, And have no doubt.
We are here to help change the world.
Titled ‘Make Love Not Walls,’ Diesel’s Spring / Summer 2017 campaign centers on a band of shiny, happy people – gay, straight, transgender, multiracial – breaking a heart-shaped hole through a barbed wire-topped concrete wall using an inflatable rainbow-colored tank as pink smoke billows in the background.
The hole fills with colorful flowers and serves as the backdrop for a gay wedding at which one of the grooms wears a keffiyeh-like headdress fashioned from denim. The diverse attendees celebrate the beauty of the love before them, challenging traditional notions of family and archaic ideas of limitation and judgment.
This emotional, narrative experience channels the art of war in a strikingly playful and modern context. Democratic and participatory, the ‘war’ promotes inclusion, creativity, freedom, and love as Diesel’s instigators of positive change – the ‘Love Brigade’ – rally against hate.
“It’s easy for many to question whether the world of fashion campaigns are the right spaces to discuss political and social issues. However, when dissecting campaigns such as this one, it’s clear that it’s far from a frivolous, throwaway statement. In difficult times, positive messages are key and David LaChapelle has a skill of taking in the current climate and turning it around into powerful imagery which can have a profound impact.”
Over the course of three days shooting in the California desert after an extensive set build, LaChapelle and his team of longtime collaborators captured natural, real moments of joy to create a romantic and colorful expression of the Diesel brand.
"It was David’s idea to have a rainbow tank. The tank is now a symbol of hope, a machine that used to divide now unites us!"
At LaChapelle’s suggestion, the work of artist Stefan Maier was incorporated into the stunning print campaign through a series of photo collages and illustrations. Along with the film and other digital assets, the print campaign execution included out-of-home elements including subway postings, car and bus advertising, billboards, store windows, and store exteriors around the globe, confronting the political climate through a series of images that conveyed messages of solidarity, acceptance and kindness.
In the rousingly memorable campaign film, fittingly launched on Valentine’s Day, flowers are thrown from one side to the other of a wall lined with barbed wire, until it is torn down, allowing the models and dancers to embrace and kiss through a heart-shaped hole to the soundtrack of Danish singer Alex Vargas’s ‘Higher Love.’
The video stars Ukrainian ballet dancer Sergei Polunin, artist Stefan Maier, transsexual model Laith de la Cruz, androgynous queer artist Karis Wilde, Olympic gymnastics silver medalist Danell Leyva, makeup artist and drag star Raja, and transgender model/activist Octavia Hamlett.
"The debuting of such a powerful message comes at a time when many of us are questioning, quite frankly, just what the hell is going on in the world."
Taking a symbol of death, destruction, bombing and war and turning it into a playful icon of creativity, the campaign’s rainbow-colored inflatable tank, conceived by LaChapelle and thrust into the role of brand ambassador, appeared at Covent Garden and the Observation Point on Southbank in London during Fashion Week before traveling to Milan, Shanghai, New York, Berlin, and Tokyo. A military tool stripped of its original purpose, the tank was reimagined as an emblem of hope to spread the campaign’s message.
“From our David LaChapelle campaign featuring two sailors kissing in 1995 until now, Diesel has always and will continue to push boundaries.”
For his groundbreaking work on the ‘Make Love Not Walls’ campaign, LaChapelle won a prestigious D&AD Award, presented at the D&AD Festival and Awards Ceremony in London. D&AD Awards recognize beautiful ideas, brilliantly executed. Coveted the world over, a D&AD Pencil is the recognition of the power of craft and creativity. He has also been honored with the GLAAD Vito Russo award for ‘Outstanding Contributions Toward Eliminating Homophobia.’
“Advertising subconsciously supplies us with constant messages and if those can be positive, diverse and representative of how we want the world on the other side of the billboard to look, then why not?”
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