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Jharrel Jerome on Why He Hadn’t Been Inside a Ferragamo Store Before Becoming Face of Campaign


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Jharrel Jerome had never been inside a Salvatore Ferragamo store before receiving the call from his managers about starring in the Italian luxury brand’s newest ad campaign. Even so, the 24-year old actor had always admired the Ferragamo aesthetic.

“I was a big fan of all the photos I’d seen, and all of the billboards and models that would wear those clothes,” Jerome tells The Hollywood Reporter. “There was such an elegance to [them.]”

“The style that I wear is more hip hop and street wear,” he continues, “so I’m not used to that elegance.” The Emmy award-winner describes his style as being influenced by 90s hip-hop — he feels best, he says, in a “a dope hoodie, a graphic shirt, and some baggy sweats.”

Directed by artist and filmmaker Amalia Ulman (El Planeta), the campaign’s short film, titled Hotel Splendid, is the latest installment in the Ferragamo’s series of films. (Director Luca Guadagnino helmed one in 2013.)

This new film aims to capture the essence of an Italian summer, with Ulman exploring themes of escapism, possibility and rediscovering one’s childhood. Jerome stars alongside Ulman herself in the short that features sweeping shots of cobblestone streets, Mediterranean waters and Ferragamo’s garments and accessories, including the brand’s newest bucket bag. In addition, the campaign’s photography was also shot in Italy by photographer Hugo Comte.

Jerome spoke with THR about what drew him to the project, working with Amalia Ulman and teases upcoming projects.

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Ferragamo Campaign

Courtesy of Hugo Comte

What drew you to work on this project?

Probably the fashion and the art that Ferragamo delivers. My managers called me talking about the project and I just couldn’t believe it because there’s one Ferragamo store by me and I’ve never been inside just because I wouldn’t dare to go in and try to match to the price and the style of it. But the beauty of the clothes definitely brought me to the project and just the idea of getting the chance to go to Italy and experience a whole new culture that includes fashion and art just excited me a lot.

Were you a fan of Ferragamo prior to working on the campaign? 

Most definitely. Actually, I never owned any pieces, but I was a big fan of all the photos I’d see, and all of the billboards, and all of the models that would wear those clothes. I just thought there was such an elegance to the clothes. The style that I wear is more hip hop and street wear, so I’m not used to that elegance. But it always inspired me to one day dress in it and one day be able to wear it and afford it and to just be able to go to Italy and model for them and help be a creator on this project — it just feels bigger than life to me.

What was it like collaborating with Amalia Ulman, behind the camera as not only your director, but also on screen as your co-star?

That was amazing. She was very sweet, she was very welcoming and she knew exactly what she wanted. She is a visionary. I think that when I got there, I was really nervous, but the second I met with her and we sat down for breakfast, she painted the entire vision for me. I just calmed down and I took a big deep breath because I understood that this was in control. She’s very in control. She has an incredible eye and an incredible view on life and fashion. So, I think she was the perfect person to direct it. She’s so young and full of life, so it was just nice to be in a foreign world, but feel like I could relate to somebody who was directing.

Hotel Splendid is described as a summer of beauty and opportunities. What does summertime mean to you?

When I was a kid, summer breaks were always what we’d wait all year for. When school is off and we’d get the chance to pick up a new hobby, pick up a new activity, meet some new friends, do something different from the schedule that you’re used to living. So I feel like, at least when I was younger and still to this day, summertime is like a reset button for me. It’s a chance for me to reevaluate myself mid-year and see what new thing I can pick up or what new activity I can fall in love with as I continue on with the year. The sun, the good weather. I’m from New York, so we always love the summertime because it would be less cold, less snow, a little less rain. It was always nice.

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Ferragamo Campaign

Courtesy of Hugo Comte

Do you have any favorite garments or pieces that you wore in the short film?

I was a huge fan of the brown leather jacket. It almost felt like a trench coat, but it was leather and long on my body — that felt really cool. I felt like I was in a version of The Matrix every time, and it just felt very classy. It felt very manly and just very elegant.

How would you define your own personal style?

It’s heavily influenced by hip hop, especially 90s hip hop. I’m a big fan of wacky colors and colors that are bright and fit together. I’m a big fan of hoodies and bucket hats and overalls, Reebok sneakers and Adidas. I just love the world that all of those ’80s and ’90s rappers got to build through their branding back then. Even to this day, my favorite thing to wear is probably just a dope hoodie, a graphic shirt and some baggy sweats.

What’s coming up next for you?

A couple of things are definitely in the pot stirring. Just waiting to go shoot, God-willing that everything with COVID gets better. I’m about to go to New Orleans to shoot an Amazon project with Boots Riley called I’m a Virgo. It’s gonna be an epic journey where I’ll be playing a 13-foot tall man from Oakland. It’s gonna be very interesting, very different, very quirky, but, I think, very important. It’s an incredible project about social issues that we don’t often speak about in film, so I’m very excited. I also have new music coming out. I released a song about a year and a half ago that got a lot of good reception, and so I am now partnered with RCA the label and I’ll be releasing music sometime this year. 

Interview edited for length and clarity. 

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Ferragamo Campaign

Courtesy of Hugo Comte

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Ferragamo Campaign

Courtesy of Hugo Comte

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