Last November, 48-year-old Jennifer Lopez became the new face of Guess – setting a record as the oldest model to wear the Guess Girl crown. Looks aside, Lopez was the perfect fit; both she and the California denim brand represent wellsprings of youth and longevity – notions have animated Maurice and Paul Marciano’s company since they founded it after relocating from the South of France to California in 1977.
“When my brother and I came to Los Angeles, we thought it was going to be just a two-week vacation,” Paul says. “The beach, the palm trees and beautiful California girls seemed to all just be a dream but it actually was real life.”
From the outset, Guess designs reflected fun and femininity, emphasizing blinding acid-washes and skin-tight silhouettes. But, Paul continues, the clothes were in service of a larger philosophy. “Throughout my career, I’ve always focused more on what the image was,” he says. “The key to success for us has been remaining consistent with our brand messaging and never changing what we stand for.”
That said, the brand has adapted to the ever-changing retail market, embracing the trendy-again ’90s streetwear aesthetics it originally helped popularize. In 2016, it launched the Guess Originals collection with fashion icon A$AP Rocky, rolling out in premium boutiques like New York’s Opening Ceremony and RSVP in Chicago.
In the meantime, the Marciano family crest has established a legacy that transcends trend. In 2017, Maurice and Paul opened the Marciano Art Foundation, a sprawling contemporary art museum housed in a refurbished Masonic temple on Wilshire Boulevard. “The entire foundation really is Maurice’s work,” Paul says. “[He] has spent a tremendous amount of time and energy to make it what it is today.” After last year’s acclaimed inaugural exhibit, “Jim Shaw: The Wig Museum,” which drew on the history of the Freemasons, the Foundation’s forthcoming exhibit, “Olafur Eliasson: Reality projector,” will fill the 13,500 square-foot space with abstract, three-dimensional projections on March 1st.
Whether through flirtatious fashions or abstract art, the mission all along has been to promote artistry through image. “Our goal is to help new artists, the same way we helped new photographers and models become well known,” Paul says. “It’s important for [us] to be recognized for what we have and what we always will stand for. I’m going to keep dreaming big.”