The prestigious fashion photographer Giovanni Gastel collaborated with Levi’s for the Europe-wide launch party of the new women’s product selection of Levi’s Lot700 in Milan within the closing day of Milan Fashion Week. On this occasion Levi’s presented Gastel’s pictures portraying fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni (aka The Blonde Salad) as ambassador for the project.

The new Lot700 jeans selection is inspired by Lady Levi's Lot701, the first women's jeans created by Levi's in 1934. Similarly to the classification system used for men’s styles for Levi’s 501 model, the new women’s collection includes six different fits – all made with high-performance stretch denims - aimed at meeting most different consumers’ tastes and flattering each body type – from skinny to high-rise and including slim and boot cut, each one available in a wide range of colors and washes.

Here, Giovanni Gastel answered some questions about his love for Levi’s, jeans, photography and women. Interview by Maria Cristina Pavarini

Chiara Ferragni for Levi's Lot700 range photographed by G. Gastel
Chiara Ferragni for Levi's Lot700 range photographed by G. Gastel
What do jeans represent to you and how do you feel about portraying Chiara Ferragni, personifying a new breed of brand ambassadors?
Shooting a myth as Levi’s is, to me, always a huge honour. When it is also an extraordinary and beautiful woman, as my Chiara is, who wears them, my joy can only increase! I had already shot her a few years ago and I could already see her self-confidence, charm together with a freshness and spontaneity that has not changed. Even better now that Levi’s believes so much in women and launches a complete denim collection aimed at them, enrolling Chiara as ambassador.

For me jeans – and most especially Levi’s – represent a living legend. Every distinct generation has seen a symbol in jeans they could interpret most differently. For instance, today, I like how the young consider a pair of jeans as an elegant and indispensable piece of their wardrobe. The ever-changing ability of jeans to rejuvenate themselves makes them a piece of clothing that, while keeping faith to its own identity can always evolve and adapt to most different personalities and tastes. For this I think that jeans will be worn forever.

You are a professional fashion photographer since the 1980s and you saw the whole evolution that fashion photography has gone through those years. What major change have you seen since then?
I think that some younger fashion photographers today consider themselves photographers of models and simply perceive fashion as an accessory for their work. I think, instead, that clothes have to be protagonists. A fashion photographer’s task is to show, make understand and help selling that piece of fashion. You can make it by using poetry, elegance and your best ideas for endorsing fashion. All photographers that have such element clear in mind are not jobless. Also indispensable:  you cannot keep away from society’s and world’s changes. Some years ago bloggers didn’t even exist. Imagine if they could have become ambassadors! You cannot say: “People don’t understand me!” You have to understand what is happening around you.

You have worked with many top models. Can you recall any anecdote from your work?
There are so many. Generally I can say that beautiful women are most often also very intelligent, despite many widespread commonplace. Once I was shooting Linda Evangelista, such a powerful personality. I was so astonished about her because once I was shooting her using an optical bench and it looked like she was exactly doing what I wanted her to do. I thought she might almost read my mind. For this I asked her about that. Her answer was: “Very easy. Every time I look at you while you’re shooting I make the same expression you do. And that’s it!” And since while shooting with the optical bench the photographer is not hidden behind the camera but just at its side, her attitude was perfect!

Another time I had to shoot Kristen McMenamy at the beginning of the 1990s. I had to shoot her naked in a pool, but it was winter and there were -4°C. I told her: “Let’s make this photo in August. Now it’s not possible.” But she replied to me: “No problem. I want this photo. Let’s make it.” Not many would have behaved like her!