It was love at first sight, when Woolrich John Rich & Bros enthusiastically accepted my suggestion to sponsor the exhibition of photos by Douglas Kirkland inspired by classic Italian cinema (originally commissioned by Vanity Fair magazine of Italy). The show took place at the Italian Cultural Institute in Los Angeles, during the Cinema Italian Style film series, in November 2009. While the Hollywood and Italian film communities mingled, admiring well-known contemporary Italian actors portrayed by a legendary Hollywood photographer,  Douglas Kirkland, a love affair between him and Woolrich  and particularly its Arctic Parka  was immediately and happily sealed and consumed.
Douglas was given a Parka and he gladly put it on, and from that moment the Woolrich Parka came to life  as “Jack the Jacket”, as Douglas and his wife Francoise were to nickname it, and it went along with them during a fun trip through California. In Kirkland’s vision, Jack the Jacket started to take on a life of its own, transcending its functional purpose as a garment and becoming an amusing object of inspiration. It was only a matter of weeks before what started as a professional relationship became an artistic one, with Woolrich John Rich & Bros asking Kirkland to be the eye and the genius behind a unique project: 180 years of history to be celebrated through 18 portraits of people who, each in his/her own way, have left a mark in the art world., each of them wearing an iconic piece of manufacturing that made history in the saga of the American frontier: each to be photographed by an iconic figure both in Hollywood and throughout the world: Kirkland.
From that night at the Italian Cultural Institute, where actors like Andy Garcia, Danny Huston and John Savage came to admire Kirkland’s photos, loving the Parkas that were given to them as a sign of appreciation, the project quickly took shape: Francoise and I, with Douglas’s input, identified 18 talented people in the Hollywood community and out (even some Italians), who had something original, innovative and extraordinary to bring to the arts, whether it be in film, music, body movement or the great challenges of the mind. Everybody loved the idea, and participated with enthusiasm, bringing their own particular abilities: the ballet movements of Elle Fanning, the light steps of Aimee Mullins, the cheerful jumps of Dominik Garcia-Lorido in the hills behind Douglas and Francoise’s house in Hollywood, or the strong stances of Brendan Fraser. Douglas’s tireless assistants set up lights and spaces, while young Italian video-photographer Gianfilippo De Rossi videoed each photo-shoot and Francoise prepared her wonderful meals which brought everybody together at the end of the day, when it was time to relax, drink and comment on the work done, everybody inevitably touched by the experience of working with Douglas; it’s impossible not to be affected by his brilliance and excitement. Each picture taken had become a lot more than a combination of the artist at work, his subjects and a jacket: it had become an adventure, a journey, a trip, poetry in motion, time travel through the history of 180 years of the oldest outdoor clothing company in America, while witnessing the creative élan and the brilliant mind of a legendary photographer.
  pictures by   Gianfilippo De  Rossi

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