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Mikhail Gorbachev is new face of Louis Vuitton

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Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of Soviet Union, will appear in an ad campaign for the French luxury label Louis Vuitton.

The former leader of the Soviet Union may seem an unlikely candidate for the role, particularly as former Vuitton faces have included Scarlett Johansson, Uma Thurman and Jennifer Lopez. Gorbachev will feature in the autumn/winter campaign for the luxury brand, said a statement from Vuitton, a division of the LVMH group.

In the picture for the campaign, taken by American photographer Annie Leibovitz, he is seen with the Vuitton bag riding past the remains of the ultimate symbol of communism’s collapse – the Berlin Wall. It recalls the time when he took over the Kremlin in 1985 and began the process of economic and political reforms that ingrained the terms ‘perestroika’ and ‘glasnost’ on the western consciousness. Gorbachev’s far-reaching reforms of the Soviet system accelerated the collapse of communism in the 1980s. Company officials said it was Gorbachev’s idea to pose beside the Berlin Wall.

Gorbachev, 76, is giving all the proceeds of his modelling job to former US vice president Al Gore’s climate change campaign. Vuitton said it will make donations to former US vice president Al Gore’s Climate Project to fight global warming and Green Cross International, founded by Gorbachev to promote sustained development.

It is not the first time he has ventured into advertising for a good cause. In 1997, as Russia neared bankruptcy, he starred in a Pizza Hut commercial to fund his Gorbachev Foundation and build an archive recording the historic changes that he started.

Pietro Beccari, Vuitton’s director of marketing, explained that Gorbachev was included in the campaign because it was time for a “re-balance”, and to show “another side of the brand that is important to us.” The campaign, entitled The Art of Travel, will also feature Catherine Deneuve, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf.

The advertisements will appear in print from September, and also through a series of short films, including one featuring original supermodel Twiggy.


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