We've made no secret of our love for Love Magazine's annual Love Advent video series over the years; in fact, we've gone so far as to call it a highlight of our holiday season more than once. Love's London-based Editor-in-Chief Katie Grand just has a knack for assembling the best photographers, models and stylists to put together some of the most fun short videos on the internet. But like so many brilliant ideas, the Love Advent calendar has some humble and unexpected beginnings.
"I'd had too much wine on the Eurostar one November and texted all of my famous friends for their 'top tens' of various things, and we soon had a list every day for advent," Grand tells Fashionista via email. "This led to me thinking that we'd do something festive with moving imagery the following year with various people and dogs and rabbits, being festive."
The series has come a long way since the very first Advent videos in 2011. "It was easy as there was no expectation, no millions of viewing figures, and it was ok to have my rabbit Clara jumping around in Christmas presents, and Neville, Marc Jacobs's dog, with reindeer antlers," Grand says. Early (much lower-budget!) Advents included a stripping Liberty Ross, a roller-skating Cara Delevingne, and a lip-syncing Joan Smalls. The feedback was immediately positive. "People have always been great," says Grand.
Of course, Grand has jumpstarted the careers of so many models in the industry (in addition to being EIC of Love, she's also a prolific casting director and stylist), so it's no surprise that she was able to cast amazing girls straight out of the gate. She continues to recruit some of the best and most in-demand in the business, from Victoria's Secret Angels like Alessandra Ambrosio and Stella Maxwell, to supermodels like Ashley Graham and Liu Wen, to superstars like Zendaya and Ciara — "girls we love," as Grand describes them. But there's another facet to the success of the Love Advent videos: Their inherent sense of humor.
"The Love Advent is always such a fun and creative way to prepare for the holidays, and I wanted to be part of this great team and project," says model Jasmine Sanders, who's second Love Advent video is slated for later this month. "It shows a different side of the fashion industry in a fun and quirky way."
While many of the videos are undeniably sexy, there are also a fair share of wacky ones too — think Chrissy Teigen working out with a hot dog, or Kris Jenner in...well, anything. "The girls love it when we have a concept — Kendall and the shark, Bella as Wonder Woman, Bella as a fitness guru," Grand says. That means she often gives free reign for the directors to come up with fun ideas. "Katie and I have been working together for twenty five years," says director Phil Poynter. "Working with Katie and her team is always exciting and creatively rewarding; she is always at the forefront of brilliant creative ideas, pushing us all to be the best we can be."
For 2016, his first time participating in the Love Advent, Poynter suggested that the girls re-enact famous movie scenes — like Taylor Hill's take on "Le Mepris" or Irina Shayk's tribute to "Ghost" — for which the girls had only 20 minutes to learn their lines. (He promises the best is yet to come, but says Barbara Palvin "rocked it" with her "Fatal Attraction" send up.) "I chose to copy classic movie scenes as I wanted the girls to act; they are all such strong personalities that rarely get the chance to speak in the rolls we demand of them," Poynter says. "I chose these film scenes as they are all scenes where women hold the power over their sexuality, and are fully in control of it and the situation."
Grand has a soft spot for the funny videos, telling Fashionista she particularly loved director Doug Inglish's 2015 blooper reel. But she has one notable favorite. "[It's] probably still Jean Marc Masala, who was [Love's] fashion director at the time, dressed as Kermit dancing," she says. "I cried every time I watched it as it was so funny."
Since those first humble videos after a tipsy Eurostar ride, things have only ramped up: Last year brought the most-viewed Advent video ever: Kendall Jenner's, which got over 20 million hits. The 2016 series includes shoots from directors like Hype Williams and Rankin, starring the likes of Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton. And with those high-profile mini films come sponsors; this year, Agent Provocateur, Coach, Dsquared2 and Marc Jacobs Beauty are all supporting the Love Advent. Grand says Love has already doubled 2015's views: Total views are at 54 million, with the Hype Williams-directed video of Kendall Jenner at 16 million views alone, and it's barely halfway through December.
Considering the series runs into January, and with videos coming from models like Gigi Hadid and Hari Nef, we think there will be plenty more chances for Grand and Love to break their own record.