For all the ways that you could pay homage to an icon, Gigi Gorgeous has found one of the most unique ways yet to do so. Along with Creative Director Brad Hammer and photographer Shaun Vadella, Gorgeous has been stunningly reimagined as the iconic Anna Nicole Smith in her legendary GUESS campaign of the 90’s. Releasing this pictorial on the anniversary of the day that the world lost Anna Nicole Smith (February 8th, 2007), adds a layer of depth and emotion to the shots, making them that much more stunning.
I caught up with Gigi (and her creative team) and they each shared what the experience was like recreating an advertising landmark moment and working with a woman who has redefined what trans women truly achieve.
Michael Cook: What made you want to recreate the amazing shots Anna Nicole did for the iconic GUESS campaign?
Gigi Gorgeous: I’ve always been obsessed with classic, blonde bombshells like Anna Nicole, Marilyn Monroe and Bridgette Bardot. GUESS was also such an iconic brand for me, especially growing up. I would see their campaigns with the beautiful girls they featured in the mall and I remember telling myself that one day, I would look like them too.
MC: What was it like when you looked at the finished product and saw yourself next to the shots of Anna Nicole? That feeling must have been overwhelming!
GG: It was so surreal for a few reasons. When I saw the photos, I truly felt like we could have been twins or sisters. It was such a fun shoot that I didn’t realize until afterwards that we were really nailing the shots, even down to having every finger in the same place as Anna Nicole’s in her iconic images. I was so impressed with the photographer and the art director for this shoot and I can’t wait to frame a few of these in our home.
MC: How has Anna Nicole inspired who Gigi Gorgeous is?
GG: To be honest, I only knew the Anna Nicole you saw in pictures. When I started this project and really started educating myself about her, watching all of the documentaries about her and videos, I found her beauty and the tragedy of her life fascinating. I had no idea the demons she was dealing with and only really “knew” her on a surface level from her beauty campaigns. It’s a cautionary take to all of us that you never really know what someone else might be struggling with.
MC: What projects are you working on currently?
GG: I just wrapped up the tour for my book, “He Said, She Said: Lessons, Stories and Mistakes from my Transgender Journey” and also recently launched my genderless makeup collection with IPSY. Now that I’m finally finished traveling, I’m able to really focus on my passion which is my Youtube and Instagram TV content. We are just in the beginning episodes of Get Into It Season Two, which I’m excited about because it’s almost twice as many episodes as season one was. Get Into It is my series for IGTV that we take a deeper look into my life and discuss topics such as sex, marriage, labels and I give advice. There are also a few exciting things currently in the works that I can’t say on record now, but I can’t wait to announce to the world very soon!
MC: What would you tell Anna Nicole if you could spend any time with her at all?
GG: The first thing I’d ask her is if she liked this recreation of her iconic photos! And I’d also tell her that her beauty inspired me to because the woman I am today.
Much like the icon that she is portraying, Gigi Gorgeous had a fantastic team of people behind her to help bring these images to life. She worked directly with Creative Director Brad Hammer and Photographer Shaun Vadella to recreate these images.
Creative Director Brad Hammer tells me that their partnership happened “randomly” after Gorgeous posted a pic of her in a bathing suit, reminding him of a “young Christie Brinkley”. After collaborating with photographer Shaun Vadella and Gorgeous, they decided to recreate the GUESS ads that Anna Nicole Smith made so famous. Hammer says that he thinks that Anna a would have loved “Gigi’s free spirit and playfulness” and that there are similarities between these two legendary blonde bombshells. “Gigi is helping transgender youth realize that they can be a model and chase their dreams. Both are role models by being their authentic selves”.
Photographer Shaun Vadella echoes Hammer’s feelings on working with such with Gorgeous. He says that the whole process happened “very organically”. Vadella says that “this isn’t the first and it will not be the last time he had Gorgeous in front of his lens” and that he had taken Gorgeous and her wife Nats (Getty) engagement photos, and done a makeup campaign with Gorgeous among other projects. He says that these experiences have created an “amazing working relationship and friendship” that he is so thankful for. Vadella sees Kim Petras and Billy Porter as dream subjects to have in front of his lens, and as his ultimate goal-Beyonce’. Dream big right?
As an added bonus, check out this amazing video footage of Gigi Gorgeous transforming into Anna Nicole Smith for this pictorial. (Credits: Photographer: Shaun Vadella; Producer/Director: Brad Hammer; Hair: Frankie Payne; Makeup: GIGI; Wardrobe: GUESS (Thank you Javier Walker); Prod manager: Nicholas Monaco; Video editor: Aurora Sexton)