JAY-Z’s cannabis brand, MONOGRAM, launch the first installment of a three-part campaign that reimagines the iconic photos of renowned mid-century American photographer Slim Aarons through a contemporary lens. Photographer Hype Williams, known for capturing some of the most striking images of modern hip hop and culture, serves as the campaign’s present-day Aarons, bringing an inspired creativity to his role in depicting what the good life looks like today, which encompasses a lifestyle that cannabis has the right to be a part of.
In his own words, Slim Aarons’ life’s work was devoted to capturing “attractive people, doing attractive things in attractive places.” The photographs he created over four decades at the world’s finest locales have since become synonymous with mid-century luxury, beauty and leisure. MONOGRAM tapped Williams to reimagine several of these quintessential images – including “Keep Your Cool,” “Desert House Party,” “Poolside Glamour,” “Leisure and Fashion” and more – starring an updated cast of diverse personalities. The resulting imagery illustrates the dynamic, expanding landscape of modern luxury, and how it intersects with a new chapter in cannabis culture.
“The perception around cannabis has shifted a lot since the 20th century. If you were to ask me and my peers how we’d define the good life today, weed would definitely be a part of it. Whether we’re smoking to inspire creativity or to celebrate an achievement, cannabis has a rightful place in modern day culture,” said Williams. “HOV has a vision for the industry that he’s bringing to life through MONOGRAM. His focus for this campaign was to showcase how beautifully cannabis fits into the good life today, and I am honored to be a part of it.”
Shot at the Frank Sinatra House in Palm Springs, MONOGRAM recreated and recast a series of Aarons’ most notable poolside vignettes, this time starring an engaging and diverse group of talent styled by High Snobiety Fashion Director Corey T. Stokes. With wardrobe playing such a critical role in the art direction of each contemporized photo, Mr. Stokes honors many of the timeless looks immortalized by Aarons’ original work, while seamlessly weaving in modern accents or pops of streetwear. By striking a harmonious balance between the two, Stokes ultimately brings each character to life within the context of today’s aspirational fashion culture. Featured personalities include ‘Best New Artist’ Grammy nominee Chika, New York-based trio of culinary experts & activists Ghetto Gastro, rapper & songwriter Curren$y, designer & stylist Aleali May, and fashion & beauty model Slick Woods. The cast of individualistic visionaries and icons of tomorrow are depicted across the campaign creative lounging on floats with MONOGRAM product in hand, basking in outdoor opulence and establishing a new good life, redefined.
New installments of the campaign will also be introduced later this the year, coinciding with the debut of “Slim Aarons: Style” – a new monograph that takes a deep dive into the fashion and style represented throughout Slim Aarons’ work. Published by Abrams and hitting shelves on September 21, 2021, “Slim Aarons: Style” features nearly 50 previously unpublished photographs pulled straight from the Slim Aarons archive in London, giving consumers a brand-new look into his legacy.
“Slim Aarons defined a lifestyle and an era, and this campaign is proof that his imagery, style and taste still resonate,” said Shawn Waldron, Curator, Getty Images and author of Slim Aarons: Style. Mr. Waldron collaborated with MONOGRAM to select imagery from the Slim Aarons archive to bring Mr. Carter’s vision to life. “Hype Williams creatively pays homage to Slim’s incredible talent while updating the setting and personalities in a truly inspired way.”
Launching just in time for 4/20, the campaign is currently on display across all major U.S. markets including New York State, which recently legalized adult use of cannabis on March 31, 2021. Billboards and sprawling wallscapes featuring the photography can be found throughout well-traveled areas of New York City – from Times Square to SoHo to Brooklyn – further underscoring this major step in helping to destigmatize cannabis and drive progress forward for the industry.
“On the heels of legalization, seeing creative like this become a natural part of the fabric of New York City only reinforces that cannabis has a right to exist within our customs, arts and social institutions,” shared Mr. Carter. “New York’s decision to legalize is a victory for the entire industry, and I’m excited to have MONOGRAM play a role in bringing that message to life in my own backyard.”