st. john is one of those companies that has a definitive look, like dolce & gabbana or giorgio armani. its knit suits were a staple for the 40+ set and for a long time, the face of the company was kelly gray, the daughter of the company founders, who frolicked on the beach or in the outback, usually with a cast of hot younger men.
then, like with most companies, sales fell and the “st. john look” began to show signs of wear. robert and marie grey sold the company and they, along with kelly, were nudged out in favor of a younger and hipper look, which included changing up the advertising. first they signed gisele, who contined to play the role that grey did, except on a hollywood set…she was followed by hulking men carrying cables or executives in sleek suits. while she looked fabulous in the ads, it wasn’t exactly in line with the st. john buyer. then angelina jolie was signed to a multiyear deal, and while she represents a somewhat more accurate view of the st. john woman (executive, mother, philanthropist), at some point it had to be less about the spokeswoman and more about the clothes.
enter kelly gray (again), who has returned to st. john as a consultant on their new ad campaign, shot by mark seliger. i love the sophistication of the new ads and the diversity of the models: marina peres, bianca balti, hilary rhoda, and caroline winberg. the not-so-well-known faces make sure that you look at the clothing, which is shot in vignettes of suiting, casual wear and eveningwear. gray described the ads in wwd as being “editorial…editorial, like we were pushing the envelope a bit.” i have to agree, and hope this is a sign of ads to come.
pic of vintage st. john ads from fashiontribes; scans from faith akiyama at thefashionspot