Oliviero Toscani and the advertisement 'Whoever loves me should follow me'. “And how they followed her!”

Today jeans are pants that everyone wears. But what made them popular 50 years ago was a campaign that caused a scandal. The great photographer who was its author tells us how it was born. Also thanks to a love

  oliviero-toscani-jeans-today-21 Oliviero Toscani, now 81 years old, with model Donna Jordan, 73 years old. He was the b-side of the jeans campaign that caused a scandal. And history

The jeans are 150 years old and the advertising that caused a scandal in Italy is fifty years old. You could see a woman's butt, covered in a mini jeans. The brand was Jesus: the writing above the buttocks 'He who loves me, follow me'. Sack flour by Oliviero Toscani, born in Milan 81 years ago, three wives and six children.

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Tuscans, do we remember how it went? «Yes, but let's start from a little earlier. I am a child of the Sixties, I am the same age as Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. At the age of 22 I began to travel and photograph what was an expression of my generation. In Italy the great photojournalists followed Holy Week and they said of me: Toscani is a frivolous person who follows fashion. But it was fashion that signaled how times were changing».

And the one about jeans was exploding. At the end of the 1960s, Luca Goldoni wrote a memorable elzeviro entitled 'La sistemata' in the Corriere. He made fun of elderly party leaders who showed up at the Political Tribune in jeans to look young, and who waited not to be placed in order to settle down the 'so-called' suffering ones. «In the 1960s in Italy there was only one company that made jeans, in Barberino di Mugello. Craft stuff, a canvas they sold at the market. I was a friend of Maurizio Vitale, son of the owner of a knitwear factory which would later become Robe di Kappa. In 1966 I told him: tell your father to make the jeans. And nothing: they made tank tops and socks».

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Until… «Until one day in 1973, in New York where I lived, Maurizio Vitale arrives and says to me: 'Now I manage the company, we make jeans'. We went to party on Broadway. I looked up and saw the commercial for the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. I said to Maurizio: let's call them Jesus, these jeans. And he: but you're crazy. And I: why not? It's a well-known name, there's no copyright and even hippies like it. He was convinced.'

Thus the choice of name. But the poster? «Don't think about the legend of who knows what strategy. There was no money. All handmade stuff. From oratory. When we got back to Milan, I started taking some test photos. At one point I realized that in the street everyone was looking at the butt of a model, Donna Jordan».

And who knows why. “He was wearing denim shorts. I said to Maurizio: let's photograph the back of Jordan. Then we went to via Carducci to an advertising agency called Italia, there was Emanuele Pirella, almost unknown at the time. It was there that the idea of ​​the writing 'He who loves me follows me' came up. And the version that Pirella created that campaign has passed. Alright, let's leave it alone. In Italy successes always have many parents».

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Instead, was it mainly the stuff of the Vitale-Toscani couple? 'Obvious. And I repeat: made with two lire. You think those Donna Jordan jeans weren't even Jesus. They were Levi's: and to take pictures I cut them even shorter. Some of our friends attached the posters to them'.

But the phrase 'Chi mi ama mi segua' was from Pirella. 'Yes, but what sentence is that? As if to say: the wheel is round».

Well in short. If so, why did it cause such a scandal? 'Because those were the times. L'Osservatore Romano mounted a crazy polemic. For ten days we were accused of everything, and luckily there were no social networks. Then, one morning, Maurizio phones me happily: “Oliviero, go buy the Courier , there is an article by Pier Paolo Pasolini who defends us”. He had written that the Jesus of jeans beat that of the Vatican. Since that day, a lot has changed in Italy».

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So, Toscani, let's share the merits of that successful campaign equally. She, Vitale, Pirella, the friends who hang up the posters, Pasolini. Alright then. But the butt? Is it true that you said that a butt can be more representative than a face? 'I'm just saying that nature hasn't cut a face or a butt.'

Several women, years later, claimed that side B. 'It was mine,' they said. «And I repeat: success always has many parents».

But how did she convince her? In what relationship was she with this model? “She was my fiancée. I still feel it. You live in the United States, where you have opened an organic food store ».

Source: oggi.it