Timeless, sexy, mysterious and all-American—these qualities have set the tone for every single Guess Jeans campaign since Paul Marciano decided to set off to sunny Laguna Beach and shoot the brand’s first commercial images. That was 34 years ago, and a little than three decades later, the brand continues to be defined by the images evoked by sexy and beautiful models commanding reverence to ubiquitous beauty.
In all of fashion’s history, The Guess Girl is probably one of its most quintessential lead characters, a trademark as—if not more—powerful than the brand’s inverted triangle emblem itself.
Individually, these girls’ personal lives and careers have been sensational. Banded together as the faces and bodies of GuessJeans, they have successfully produced images that turned the brand into one that’s truly iconic.
Carla Bruni, whose sultry Italian mien led her to become one of the world’s top supermodels, was only 16 when she became a face of the brand. She eventually became the wife of France President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Claudia Shiffer, with her Brigette Bardot-esque appeal, caused a ruckus in a quiet Italian village as they shot her campaign in the early ’90s.
Anna Nicole Smith, whose tumultuous personal life was the only thing more well-remembered than her unforgettable presence in Guess images; Paris Hilton, who became the face of the denim brand right when she was at the height of being the poster girl of the modern young American pop culture zeitgeist; and Brazilian beauties Alessandra Ambrosio, Ana Beatriz Barros and Adrianna Lima who have served as modern-day standards of sexiness, power and confidence.
Others who have given shape to the brand’s image by serving as unforgettable fixtures in campaigns include: Laetitia Casta, who first set foot in the Guess offices as a young, innocent girl at 14 yet served an impressive six years as the face of the label; Carre Otis, the first Guess model to join the team as they started their global journey, shooting campaigns around the world; and 2005 Guess girl Tori Praver, whose surfer girl persona gave a modern spin to the brand’s long-established beautiful-sexy-confident spirit. Of course, there’s Drew Barrymore, too.
Not to be overlooked are the genius lensmen who captured the spirit of the brand. Wayne Masser, Guess first ever photographer, started taking photos for the brand without any prior experience in fashion photography; Herb Ritts—who later in his career would be known for his awe-evoking black-and-white shots—shot Shiffer for a video in the desert; Ellen Von Unwerth, known for her powerfully sensual photographs of women; Raphael Mazzucco, whose part in the brand’s history is memorable as he was the photographer on location shooting a Guess campaign the week of the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001; and Yu Tsai, a collaborator in the 2007 campaign who produced one of the most unforgettable campaign images in Guess history.
These Guess girls—and the photographers who have captured their respective campaigns—have managed to successfully alter denim’s place in fashion history. From a utilitarian, working man’s fabric, denim jeans are now a symbol of being irreverently sexy.