Saturday, September 23, 2023

Mel Ottenberg Discusses Working With Lauryn Hill On Her First Ever Fashion Campaign

Why do we feel like debut body of work in every creative campaign is usually the best effort yet? The question coming immediately after this is why Lauryn Hill has chosen now to front her first fashion campaign?


As it is that the Fugees star cannot even proffer satisfactory answers to our quest yet, stylist Mel Ottenberg might have some answers. Ottenberg tells of how he came to work with Hill on the singer’s autumn/winter 2018 campaign for Woolrich after experiencing her creative control both behind the camera and as a model in front of it.


Lauryn Hill First Fashion Campaign VI


“She marches to her own beat, and with this project she got to completely show her instincts as a creator. So much of her vibe is in the pictures, it’s so cool.” says Ottenberg.


Lauryn Hill First Fashion Campaign


Lauryn Hill First Fashion Campaign IV


Woolrich’s decision to have Lauryn Hill on the re-branding process of their identity through its “Woolrich: American Soul Since 1830” series is not a move that can be subjected to any further questioning. The undeniable fact that Lauryn Hill’s solo album, ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ was one of the defining neo-soul albums of the late Nineties which paved way for artists such as Amy Winehouse and Alicia Keys, has been the fundamental reason for her to be the best pick for the campaign.


Ottenberg continued; “It was fun to style Lauryn in outfits that display real American grit,” Ottenberg says of Woolrich’s trademark checks, denim, workwear and outerwear that the brand is reviving for autumn. “These pieces have been part of the American vocabulary for over a hundred years, and they are definitely part of my soul as a stylist, and Lauryn’s identity.” 


Hill is known to have been designing and customizing her own clothes for years now, coming up with up to 30 jacket sketches was the most natural thing anybody ever seen her do. The fascinating jacket pieces pieces were screen-printed with collages of Hill and her eponymous album cover.

“I rarely get starstruck,” Ottenberg shares, “But she was a force to be reckoned with. She’s a tough cookie, but so beautiful… A mega star, with such modern style.”

The moment Hill walked in to the Harlem theatre where the shoot took place, the entire team was gripped in awe. For  the record, Lauryn Hill shot the video for “Doo Wop (That Thing)” 20 years ago in 1998 at the Harlem theatre.

“We had her in all these really wild looks that symbolise who she is now as an artist, and the new approach of Woolrich,” Ottenberg explains. She made the whole good feeling worth it while by  practicing the vocals for her 20-year anniversary tour of The Miseducation.

“It killed everybody, it was the most exciting ever,” Ottenberg says once more. “I have a history of working with strong women, because they inspire and challenge me, but this was really special.”

Lauryn Hill First Fashion Campaign II
Lauryn Hill First Fashion Campaign II
Lauryn Hill First Fashion Campaign II 

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