Madonna, age defier, cone bra pioneer, and canonized pop star, will be starring in Versace’s next campaign. If those words sound familiar, it’s because she’s already done exactly that three times before. Before artist and brand collaborations were an everyday news item, Madonna was bridging the worlds of music and fashion through her relationships with designers like Gianni and Donatella Versace and, of course, Jean Paul Gaultier. Let's take a look back at all her iconic ads, shall we?
Madonna scored her first campaign for Versace two years before Gianni’s death, when she was in between her then-most confessional album Bedtime Stories and Evita. Shot by Steven Meisel, the mostly black and white campaign foreshadowed her hyperfemme, suited up post-Evita style. If you look closely enough at the photo of Madonna in the lilac thigh-grazing gown at the table, you’ll also notice that it foreshadowed Lady Gaga’s Versace campaign that would appear 18 years later.
That same year Madonna shot another campaign for the brand, this time with Mario Testino who she’d go on to work with countless times in her career (and for Versace again in 2005). Testino’s campaign was much lighter and more ’90s minimalism-centric and very proto-Ray of Light, her 1998 album.
Madonna’s second campaign with Mario Testino had a much stronger purpose: to challenge the way people perceive business women. Versace was so passionate about the cause, they reportedly spent $20 million on the 2005 campaign. “I wouldn't call her a secretary, but Madonna herself says, a Chief Executive Officer,” Donatella told Italian Vogue at the time. “A high level working woman that does not renounce glamour when she's in the office. Madonna worked a lot to define that image: she's a woman who put her nose in everything that has got to do with her, and that's smart.”
Almost like clockwork, another near-10 years later, Madonna is stepping in to reenergize Versace again. In her latest campaign, she worked with Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott for a much fiercer look. She shows off her strong side in a laser cut leather dress while shooting off a pose that says she’s not to be messed with. Werk it, Madge.