A tipster brought to our attention on Wednesday that Milly's fall 2016 campaign is eerily similar to the work of Toilet Paper, a visual-focused magazine launched by artist Maurizio Cattelan and photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari in 2010 after working together on a shoot for W Magazine in 2009. The pair gained even more recognition in the fashion world thanks to Kenzo's Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, who commissioned the artists to create the brand's ad campaigns for multiple seasons starting in 2013. And as you can see in the images above and below, there are some clear similarities between the campaign and editorial images found in the indie magazine.
The images were a departure for Milly, representing an edgy new direction for the brand, but not for Jessica Walsh, artistic director of the campaign and partner of Sagmeister & Walsh. "We've been creating colorful photographic illustration campaigns in this aesthetic for clients before Toilet Paper Magazine ever started," defended Walsh in an email to Fashionista. (Sagmeister Inc. was founded in 1993, then renamed to Sagmeister & Walsh in 2012, two years after Walsh joined the creative studio.) "The Milly campaign required a heavy amount of CGI and crazy intense staged makeup to create these zipped florals and ice imagery and stitched face, that's not the Toilet Paper aesthetic, which is shot in camera."
Walsh does have a point. And a quick glance through the designer's Instagram feed clearly shows that bright, bold backgrounds and graphic visuals are part of her #aesthetic. But it does bring up the question as to whether Toilet Paper was used as a (strong?) source of inspiration by Walsh and, perhaps, Milly's Michelle Smith, all along. In a February 2014 interview with the Guggenheim, Walsh expressed her love for Toilet Paper. "Those images—it's shock after shock as you turn the pages, but in an awesome, twisted, and beautiful way," she said.
We reached out to Milly's team for comment but did not receive a response by press time. After taking a look at Toilet Paper's imagery, Walsh also claims that the composite photo at the top of this post is the only one that has a connection to the artist duo.
But our tipster thinks differently, providing more examples below. You be judge: