FASHION'S NEW FACES

Tennis Champ Naomi Osaka Is Fashion’s New Darling And Here’s Why

As Naomi Osaka shows, it takes good looks, great talent and a strong voice to land a fashion campaign. We round up our favourite leading ladies of Spring/Summer 2021.

Tennis Champ Naomi Osaka Is Fashion’s New Darling And Here’s Why
Image: Louis Vuitton

Naomi Osaka has extended her winning streak outside the courts, very recently with a brand ambassador deal with French luxury stalwart Louis Vuitton. The first Asian tennis singles player to rank No. 1 and the winner of four Grand Slam titles, she is one of this generation’s most esteemed athletes.

Nicolas Ghesquière, artistic director of womenswear at Louis Vuitton, was attracted to Osaka’s independent, go-getting spirit. “In awe of Naomi” as “she stays true to herself and doesn’t compromise on her values”, he sought out the tennis superstar for his SS21 fashion campaign. And it’s turning out to be a love match.

Says Osaka: “Aside from tennis, my most treasured passion is fashion. There is no brand more iconic than Louis Vuitton. It is such an honour to work with Nicolas — he’s a designer I admire so much and we share a mutual love of Japanese culture and style. To become global brand ambassador is truly a dream come true for me.”

Naomi Osaka Louis Vuitton
Naomi Osaka won this year’s Australian Open tournament – and her fourth Grand Slam title.Image: Instagram/naomiosaka

Born to a Haitian dad and Japanese mum, Osaka moved to the US at the age of 3 but represents Japan at competitions. An advocate for social and political issues, which she dovetails with her sporting achievements, Osaka has described it as “just trying to use my platform for anything and everything that I believe in and things that I feel could touch at least one person.”

Osaka sported different face masks at last year’s US Open to honour the seven victims of police brutality that sparked #BlackLivesMatter. Oh, did we mention she won the tournament?

“I was just thinking that I had this opportunity to raise awareness. Tennis is watched all around the world, so people who might not know these names can Google them and learn their stories… That was a big motivator for me, and I think it helped me win the tournament,” she’s said in an interview.

Naomi Osaka Louis Vuitton
Even with her mask on, Naomi Osaka lent a mighty voice to racial injustice.Image: Instagram/naomiosaka

And leveraging her clout as the face of the 2020 Summer Olympics (23 July to 8 August) in Tokyo, she fearlessly called out Yoshiro Mori for his sexist remarks that “women talk too much”.

Calling it “a really ignorant statement to make”, she also shared separately: “Barriers are being broken down, especially for females. We’ve had to fight for so many things just to be equal.” (Mori later stepped down as Tokyo Olympics chief amid considerable backlash for his comments.)

Charlotte Casiraghi

Charlotte Casiraghi Chanel
“It’s as if I was born with Chanel,” Charlotte Casiraghi shared.

With Hollywood princess Grace Kelly and Monaco royal Prince Rainier III for grandparents, Charlotte Casiraghi lives a life many dream of. Clearly influenced by her mother Princess Caroline — still revered as a style icon for her elegant looks — she is notoriously tight with the house of Chanel, especially its late creative director Karl Lagerfeld and his successor Virginie Viard.

“It’s as if I was born with Chanel. I think of photos of my mum when she was pregnant with me… wearing Chanel,” Casiraghi lets on. And when she married French film producer Dimitri Rassam in 2019, she walked down the aisle in a splendid haute couture creation — one of Lagerfeld’s final works.

“Virginie did the alterations at the fitting, which symbolised Karl passing the baton to her,” she remembers. To kick-start her role as the newest ambassador of Chanel and star of its SS21 campaign, Casiraghi was photographed by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin at La Vigie, Lagerfeld’s residence in Monaco.

Charlotte Casiraghi Chanel
“I wanted to dance in these clothes,” Charlotte Casiraghi, who’s also an equestrian, said of Chanel’s SS21 pieces.

Many women might have found it tough to rock a slouchy Chanel jacket and skirt — in Chanel’s iconic tweed, no less — but this mother-of-two owned the outfit with her distinctive insouciant chic.

The real appeal of Casiraghi isn’t just in her flair for mixing and matching designer pieces. A distinguished horse rider, this literature and poetry enthusiast is also president of Rencontres Philosophiques de Monaco, which she founded in 2015 to promote philosophy.

Her collaboration with Chanel, therefore, was the perfect opportunity to launch Literary Rendezvous at Rue Cambon, which she hopes can “move culture forward”. Like how the Mademoiselle held intellectual discussions at her apartment, these intellectual salons bring together female writers and actresses to share perspectives on their work or that of other literary figures.

Beatrice Borromeo Casiraghi

beatrice borromeo casiraghi dior
Beatrice Borromeo Casiraghi is also a special envoy for human rights at Fashion 4 Development. It promotes the fashion and textile industry, advances economic and social development activities, and preserves culture and empowers women.
Image: Martin Messner

While sis-in-law Charlotte Casiraghi sticks to Chanel, Beatrice Borromeo Casiraghi lends her clout to another storied French label, Dior.

The daughter of Italian aristocrats Count Carlo Ferdinando Borromeo and Paola Marzotto, whose family owns much of the Borromean islands in Lago Maggiore and substantial real estate in Milan, she married Pierre (Charlotte’s brother) in 2015 and they have two children.

Although it’s tempting to refer to her as Monaco’s Meghan Markle, Borromeo pursued a career mostly away from the spotlight. She worked as a journalist and was known for her hard-nosed exposés on corruption. She also directed documentaries that addressed gritty topics such as children living in slums.

No stranger to luxury fashion — her maternal grandmother Marta Marzotto was a model-turned-fashion stylist — Borromeo has chosen to use her privileged background to help bring about change in the world. Just the kind of lady Maria Grazia Chiuri loves.

Aespa

Aespa Givenchy
Aespa comprises four real-human girls and their avatars!

Look out, Blackpink. New all-girl K-pop quartet Aespa — an anagram of “avatar” and “experience” — debuted only in November and have already chalked up considerable buzz.

Its debut single Black Mamba, a high-energy earworm thanks to its catchy “Ma Ma Ma Mamba” refrain, was accompanied by a slickly-produced MV that became the fastest to garner 100 million views on YouTube. Within 24 hours of its launch, views had hit nearly 23 million.

Aespa comprises Winter, Giselle, NingNing and Karina — who are real humans, by the way — and their virtual avatars. “The real-life members and their avatars are separate organisms,” insisted their management at SM Entertainment.

“And the avatar members have AI brains that allow them to converse and support the real members, even befriending them, sharing information, as well as going back and forth from one world to another.”

Aespa’s appointment as Givenchy’s first-ever South Korean ambassador is a marriage made in hypebeast heaven. Creative director Matthew M. Williams’ contemplations of streetwear and savoir faire mirror perfectly the real and virtual realms Aespa inhabits. No surprise if he decides to roll out a collection just for the avatars.

Related Stories