JFK at Martha's Vineyard in the 1960's. John Coltrane on the cover of the classic jazz record "Blue Train". Tom Cruise dancing his underwear and white socks in "Risky Business". There is something about classic American style that looked good fifty years ago, and, I would wager, will continue to look good fifty years from now. It's a style that brings elements from American Universities, or "The Ivy Style", and mixes it with a comfortable familiarity that is at one timeless and modern.
To me classic American style is a combination of many contradictions. The mood and the attitude can be traditional and irreverent at the same time. Look at Miles Davis Live at Newport wearing an oxford cloth button down shirt and a seersucker jacket. It's casual and dressy at the same time, look at JFK in chinos on his sailboat eating ice cream with his daughter.
These are all the references I was thinking about when the GAP hired me to direct these videos, and also what I think about in my own style. The video loops were advertising classic underwear in a surreal yet effortless manner, and I wanted to capture many of the contradictions and the moods listed above. In many of the works that I film, there is a certain signature whimsical aesthetic layered on top of a strong fashion feeling. This comes from the composition, the angles, the mood, the lighting, and some other elements that are indescribable I suppose. And in those in-between areas is where the magic comes to life.
I started thinking about a cool downtown loft, drenched in sunlight, that would set the stage for a series of whimsical and surreal activities that the protagonist could engage in, of course all in his underwear. I sought a tone-on-tone color palette of neutrals and taupes to blend in with the model's skin tones, and then to introduce elements with the GAP's signature blue color. The art direction also incorporated touches of yellow to bring out the feeling of a sunny morning, and even a lush velvety blood maroon inside the saxophone case, which was a nod to the jazz era of New York.
Visually, the style is an infinitely looping GIF where elements of the video are composited to remain still and others are composited to loop seamlessly forever. The effect is at once strange and familiar, and makes you look twice. It's a style I pioneered on my "Selfie a Day" series on Instagram, where I am filming myself behind the scenes or in my travels in this style of infinite loops. That work on Instagram is also a moodboard or sketchbook for the types of commercial work, seen here.
Follow more of my infinitely looping adventures in advertising and selfies as @mikemellia
Director: Mike Mellia
Creative: Carlos Figueiredo
About the author: @mikemellia
Mike Mellia's Instagram is currently featured on Instagram's Mens Style Channel (with over 200,000 views), where the everyday has never looked so whimsical. Mike Mellia's Instagram selfie series has also been the inspiration for many of the commercial works he has filmed for brands including The GAP, Swarovski, Hearst, Intel, Pierre et Vacances, BETC Paris and more in New York, France, and Italy.