Kiton Takes a Spin With Formula 1 Driver

Alexander Rossi to appear in minute-long short for the Italian label

If you’ve ever seen paparazzi shots of Jay-Z or Kanye West and wondered what brand makes those flashy Italian threads they’re sporting, the name is Kiton. The rarified Neapolitan fashion label (which asks $6,795 for a two-button sport coat) has long hung in the closets of the rich and famous, giving it the kind of earned-media cachet that floats above the paid-endorsement world. But next week, Kiton will be showing off an official face—a handsome one (no disrespect, Kanye) likely to give the brand mainstream attention.

Alexander Rossi, 22, and the only American driver on the Formula 1 circuit, will star in a minute-long Web film showcasing the label’s spring/summer 2014 collection (for women, no less.) The bit of creative casting, said the film’s writer and director Joseph DeAcetis, represented a dual opportunity for the brand: To book a rising star before he gets too pricey, and to emphasize the brand’s Italian heritage in a way that’ll resonate with American audiences.

“I sort of played with the yin and yang of this,” DeAcetis said. “Even though the film is geared toward the launch of a women’s collection, I felt it needed a masculine appeal. I also told them to stick with their heritage, and Rossi is young, good-looking and Italian."

Shot in Naples' Museo di Capodimonte, the film features an equally good-looking female model breezing through the galleries of art, miraculously undergoing 12 clothing changes in a dreamlike world accessed via a crystal ball (hence the short’s title, “A Neapolitan Dream.”) Rossi is on hand as a kind of Prince-Charming figure. “It’s every girl’s fantasy that there’s a prince out there—they’re taught this when they’re young,” DeAcetis explained. (Besides, swarthy men appearing in ads for women’s brands isn’t so much of a stretch; remember Brad Pitt’s pitch for Chanel No. 5 last year?)

Despite the sex appeal of Rossi’s dashing profession, DeAcetis and Kiton elected not to mix up Formula 1 cars with the film. Never mind that asphalt race tracks aren’t a great thematic fit with a 275 year-old Bourbon palazzo, the director believes that Rossi will soon be a well known face on his own, never mind the car. “He’s already considered a sex symbol and that’s only going to grow,” DeAcetis said. “Soon, he’ll have more brands approaching him.”

Kiton has not announced a release date for the film, but it’ll be viewable on the Kiton site and, most likely, YouTube. After all, pictures of hunks are pretty easy to find on the internet.

@UpperEastRob Robert Klara is a senior editor, brands at Adweek, where he specializes in covering the evolution and impact of brands.