Years before Jason Wu catapulted onto the fashion scene with his design of First Lady Michelle Obama's inaugural ball-gown, Indianapolis ad agency Young & Laramore worked to forge a relationship between the young designer and its client, home-design brand Brizo.
Although Brizo makes bathroom fixtures, Y&L defined a strategy to make it more like a fashion label. And rather than going with a traditional-media route, Carolyn Hadlock, Y&L's executive creative director, brainstormed with stylist Brandon Cannon to break Brizo out of the box.
Mr. Cannon had introduced Y&L to Mr. Wu's designs when he brought a selection of his dresses to a Brizo photo shoot. Immediately spotting the parallels in the brands' timeless, exquisitely crafted design, the team decided to sponsor the up-and-coming Mr. Wu at Fashion Week. Y&L sold Brizo on the idea by drawing the connection of shared aesthetics and luxury-fashion aspirations. The partnership grew from there, with Mr. Wu working up an exclusive product line for Brizo.
The result is a lesson for all agencies about making sure your shop uncovers talent before they become too famous to work with you, as well one about having the foresight to expand a brand's possibilities via unique strategic partnerships.
After all, who would have imagined that you could take a fashion star and pair him with powder-room accessories? Yet for Y&L the collaboration has been highly successful. Jason Wu fixtures for Brizo -- from $15 doorknobs to $800 faucets -- are hitting stores now.
Click on the image above to see a timeline of their journey, from the agency introducing the designer to Brizo back in 2006, to Mr. Wu's creation of necklaces and T-shirts for Brizo giveaways, to the Wu-branded faucet's unveiling at an Architectural Digest event last fall.