The last face of the Soviet Union is now the new face of Louis Vuitton. The Karats of the world may find the matter of Mikhail Gorbachev modelling for a luxury label a petit bourgeois, but the man responsible for enacting the historic 1988 Law on Cooperatives — allowing private ownership of businesses in the land of the Soviets — is not a bad choice at all. Like Gorby, ‘Louis’, too, has a slightly more proletarian background, considering that its eponymous founder started selling flat-topped trunks whose USPs were being lightweight and airtight.
Shot by legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz, the ad scheduled for publication next month has Mr Gorbachev in a car, with a Louis Vuitton bag next to him and glimpses of the Berlin Wall outside. As part of the same series focusing on travel — with a Louis Vuitton, of course — former tennis stars and ace couple Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi are shown snuggling in a hotel room bed, while iconic French actress Catherine Deneuve sits on a Vuitton suitcase in a foggy train station.
The choice of Deneuve, Graf and Agassi are on predictable lines. Mr Gorbachev, with his mix of gravitas and glasnost (openness) — not to mention the map of Bangladesh on his head — adds a bit of historical grandeur to the mixed bag. And it’s quite post-modern to have the man who enabled an increasing number of Russians to afford a Louis Vuitton endorsing the luxury brand himself. Now to model for a Beluga caviar ad perhaps?