Bianca Kosoy by Anita Marie Antonini
My New Year’s plans were grounded when my flight to Maui was cancelled because of the blizzard. My resolution this year is to not get stressed about what I have no control over. I thought about frequenting the gym instead and going to Hawaii in my mind. That and watching Hawaii Five 0 on demand. Sad, but I got over it quickly.
The day after the storm revealed a quiet calm in the city, so why not have a snow day? For me that meant meeting my PMc Mag colleagues at the Coffee Shop for lunch with Senior Creative Director of Equinox, Bianca Kosoy and consolation. A drink with an umbrella perhaps? I settled on a Bloody Mary.
I have been a member of Equinox for years. It’s like my second home and a lifestyle for sure. More like a spa than a gym even. The steam room is my think tank, the pool my meditation. An abstract idea, what I love about it. Classes galore, the best trainers around.
Getting in shape this January, as always, is the quintessential thing to start to do in the New Year. Expectations may last a couple of months but not at Equinox though. It’s all up to you–anyways.
We are all intrigued by the new Equinox Ad Campaign shot by Terry Richardson, all over NYC right now. The images definitely make you stop and look. I had some burning questions about their newest offering so I asked our friend Bianca Kosoy, the Creative Director over at Equinox. All that you need to know and more, right here.
Anita Marie Antonini: This is the first time in years that Equinox decided to do an Ad campaign in house. How did your team come to that decision? Please tell us about how the concept was born.
Bianca Kosoy: Actually, this is the first time that we have EVER developed and executed a campaign in house, without partnering with an agency. We hired a new CMO (Cie Nicholson, who was the former CMO at Pepsi) and she came in with a fresh eye and an open mind. She was passionate about the idea that no one eats, breathes and lives the Equinox brand like the creative team in house, so before I knew it, we were off to the races.
The challenge was to figure out how to highlight benefits based fitness programming in a sexy, edgy way that is uniquely Equinox. Our goal was to blur the lines between fashion, fitness and lifestyle by capturing intimate moments that reveal the benefits of fitness without overtly focusing on the act itself. The BY Equinox campaign was born from the idea that being fit enhances every aspect of your life.
AMA: I would not have known that these images were ads for a gym if not for the copy. Does that kind of comment bother you or was that the point?
BK: That’s precisely the point. It plays off our tagline: IT’S NOT FITNESS. IT’S LIFE. We wanted to celebrate the human body living a life without limitations. So whether it’s Balance, Agility, Endurance, Confidence, Strength or Drive depicted through the Equinox lens — it’s about capturing an unexpected moment where fitness and lifestyle come together seamlessly to propel any experience beyond your expectations.
AMA: Balance, Endurance, Confidence, Agility are all depicted in the campaign (and spot on I would say) but I give props to your CEO Harvey Spevak to agree to such provocative images for a gym. How was the approval process for the photography? He must have a lot of confidence in your team.
BK: Harvey has always been relentless in his vision of building an iconic brand. Most importantly, he gets “it”–he knows the brand DNA in a way that no one else does and he is unafraid to allow us to push the boundaries to be provocative, in a purposeful way. We immediately aligned that Terry Richardson was the perfect partner to execute this vision. He is not just one of today’s highly celebrated and sought after fashion photographers, but he himself is a cultural icon–who walks the line at the edge of these boundaries.
AMA: Terry is a very “decisive moment” kind of guy. And a true photographic diarist –his tumblr is top notch. The campaign was shot in the porn capital of Los Angeles. The both of you are originally from California and are now New Yorkers–please tell us what was it like to work with Terry on location? My instinct is that he works fast when the time is right.
BK: I hadn’t realized that LA was the porn capital of the world. I thought it was the bad Reality TV capital of the world–wait, that title may now go to the Garden State. One of the reasons we chose to shoot with Terry (aside from the obvious reasons already stated above) is because of his signature approach to gritty flash photography that makes the viewer feel like they have just witnessed a private moment–as if they’ve been let in on a little secret. It was very interesting to shoot with Terry, because he essentially uses natural lighting with just a pop of on-camera flash. So, we knew that we had a finite amount of time to capture the perfect moment. Agility is a great example of that — we waited on the beach in Malibu until the sun was just about to disappear behind the ocean and Terry fired away. The most important thing is to be prepared, creatively aligned and have confidence in each other. Once Terry started shooting, I wanted to give him the room to experiment and push things in different directions–but at the same time, he knew what he needed to deliver in terms of what we aligned on creatively. I think this yields the best creative results. No one wants to feel locked in and stifled–and when you hire someone of Terry’s caliber, you are hiring them to bring their signature look into the project.
AMA: Pools, sunsets, half naked girls hanging out of cars, any decisive moments for you on that trip? Did you have had fun? When you love what you do, it’s not like work. Give us some dish, please…
BK: Dish—well, what happens at the Chateau Marmont, stays at the Chateau Marmont. Before we left for LA we joked that we needed to add the “Charlie Sheen Clause” to the contracts–a contingency budget for strippers and bail–but truth be told, the entire shoot was very professional and relatively tame. Listen, what we do for a living doesn’t suck. It’s like finally making it as an actor and then complaining about the paparazzi. I know that Terry and I both got new tattoos around the time of the shoot. Terry got inked on his back with the “Sexecutioner” and I got a black and gray portrait of Sharon Tate with Lost Angeles in Cholo script written beneath her to commemorate the occasion at High Voltage (Kat Von D’s studio). It was my homage to all things beautifully tragic in the City of Angels. I guess this is where we fade to black…
Written by Anita Marie Antonini
Photography by Terry Richardson
Design by Marie Havens
All photography by Terry Richardson, 2010-2011, All photography & advertising courtesy of Equinox
Sharon Tate Tattoo, Los Angeles, 2010, Photograph courtesy of Bianca Kosoy