Founded in 1941, Coach has a longstanding reputation built on quality craftsmanship and is defined by its confident New York style. The brand approaches design with a modern vision, reimagining luxury for today with an authenticity and innovation that is uniquely Coach, and for a second season they are with working with Selena Gomez as their face for the Spring 2018 collection. The singer, actress, producer, and philanthropist embodies the optimism of the original American house of leather in a series of images set in New York City that put the spotlight on the new bags.
The campaign pictures Gomez resting on a window ledge in a loft with a quintessential pre-war fire escape and the iconic Empire State Building in the background. It’s magic hour and the images capture the endless possibility of the night ahead in the city that never sleeps. She carries key bags, including the Parker, an all-new silhouette with handles that convert to a shoulder strap. The lightweight style is crafted in quilted nappa leather with bold colour-blocking and rivets for a graphic touch.
To achieve this vision of the campaign, Coach brought together its long-time team of collaborators, photographer Steven Meisel, stylist Karl Templer, creative director Fabien Baron, makeup artist Pat McGrath and hair stylist Guido Palau. It is here, with classic oldies playing in the background, that Selena speaks to us about her relationship with Creative Director Stuart Vevers and her first memories of the brand.
Selena, how are you?
I’m good, I’m healthy! I’ve been in New York shooting the new Woody Allen film, and really enjoying my time in this city.
You grew up in Texas, in a suburban part of Dallas. Coach has such resonance for people of your generation who went to the mall as kids. Do you remember the first time you got a Coach bag?
Yes! Coach was a staple, especially where I was from. My cousin and I would always go into the Coach store. I remember all we wanted were those cute little wallets that they sold, the coin purses. They said Coach in little gold letters on white leather. That’s what my cousin and I asked for Christmas, and that was a very big deal for us. It was cool that a store could make us feel that way when we walked in.
And now they’re bringing back the signature logo, which is so smart because it carries meaning for people like you who grew up with the brand.
It’s like vintage! It’s still the staple Coach bag, and it’s great when you understand what you’re getting behind when you buy something. Just watching them grow as a brand has been really cool. Creative Director Stuart Vevers added this edge, but it’s so beautiful and has a feminine spirit to it but it still has an edge.
So, is that what first piqued your interest about working with Coach?
It was definitely Stuart. Even before I met him, I had read a bunch of articles he had done and understood his vision for Coach. He really wanted to make a young girl feel cool, but in her own right. I identified with his passion for Coach as an American brand. Now, Coach is like family. In every kind of work project or business venture I undertake, I always want to make sure I love the people that I’m around. It changes the entire atmosphere. You know you’re in good hands and learning from the best. That’s how it is with Stuart, Steven Meisel, Pat McGrath, and Guido Palau.
‘Selena is a beautiful young woman with such an exquisite face, so our approach for COACH was to accentuate her natural beauty. She shines from the inside out and is a true joy to work with – she is super down-to-earth and the absolute sweetest. It might seem hard to believe for someone as famous as her, but it’s true – everyone loves working with her and she gets along with my entire team – that is the real testament to her.’ – Pat McGrath
‘Selena is such a pleasure to work with. She has the most gorgeous hair. For this campaign, we put it in a high ponytail, kind of 50’s, and left pieces around her face for ease. The way Selena looks in Coach clothes is what really inspires me.’– Guido Palau
It’s so telling that one of the most recognised items from the Coach collections is a sweater.
There’s definitely an element of organic comfort, this type of fashion isn’t tough. And, you know, the sweater is the piece I get complimented on the most. Every time I wear one, people hug me and ask, ‘What is that?’ It’s so cosy. I wanted to get one made for my 4-year-old sister, so we could match. I guess I’m that cheesy sister.
What’s it like working with Steven Meisel?
The first time I walked on set I was a little nervous, I can get a little intimidated. But he’s genuinely the sweetest, purest person. There are never a lot of people around, and it’s very intimate. It’s beautiful.
And Pat McGrath?
We met through Coach, but I had been a fan of her work for a long time. I would try to use it as inspiration for my own makeup, but how did I even think I could pull it off? Like, ‘Cool, I can do that Pat makeup look to go out to my friend’s birthday!’ She’s remarkable. You can tell how much she loves it. I don’t like going to work with people who you can tell just don’t care anymore, and I mean I get that, I’ve been there sometimes. But I’ve never experienced any other version of Pat than joyous, hilarious, passionate, and so cool.
All of Stuart’s campaigns for Coach have been so New York centric…
Yes, but also there’s a real sense of a town. He makes New York feel like a town, a real community, and it just feels like this is where the brand really lives.
That’s the thing about New York, isn’t it? You run into people at a restaurant, or on the street. That doesn’t happen so often in other cities. It’s a nice sentiment that resonates not only here in the United States, but all around the world.
Absolutely. Stuart keeps the integrity of the American brand, but makes it feel so global, where every girl and every guy feels like they can own a staple piece of the collection. I am always wearing a Coach brown leather moto jacket, every single one of my guy friends was like, ‘I really love that brown leather jacket,’ and I am like, ‘You could wear this.’ There are just some really great staple pieces.
And I love that even as he continues to elevate Coach’s fashion, Stuart never makes it feel inaccessible.
Right. It feels like something special, like something that you deserve when you’ve worked really hard. Sometimes, if I finish a project or work really hard to get a movie and then get it, I’ll gift myself something and think, ‘I worked really hard for this.’ The Coach pieces feel like those kind of things to me. But, at the same time, they do not feel inaccessible. That is a huge part of this for me.
How do you feel the resonance of Coach around the world when you travel?
Whenever I go anywhere and see a Coach store, I point like it’s my kid, ‘Look, Coach!’ It’s that feeling every time I see the brand, and it really stands alone. Even when you go through airports, you see how it’s different. It’s such a beautiful, recognisable name, and the campaigns are so beautiful, the way Steven captures it, the colours especially. It just feels like I can spot it everywhere.