Champagne has long been associated with wealth, success and pop culture, so it’s no wonder Moët & Chandon teamed up with renowned celebrity photographer Jonathan Mannion for its new annual program, “Nectar of the Culture,” which celebrates the next generation of artistic change-makers that “push culture forward.”
Mannion has documented the “Golden Era” of ’90s hip-hop ever since he shot the cover of Jay-Z’s debut album Reasonable Doubt and went on to work with anyone who’s anyone in the industry including Aaliyah, Eminem, Lil Wayne and Kanye West to name a few. Now he’s collaborating with the champagne brand to highlight the pioneers influencing culture today.
“Moët & Chandon has always been a go-to for icons in the hip-hop space, and the brand continues to have its finger on the pulse in terms of who is defining our culture and what’s next,” Mannion tells PEOPLE exclusively. “Nectar of the Culture celebrates incredible innovators from the last four decades while embracing the most brilliant voices of the next generation who are carrying the torch, illuminating our path forward.”
Throughout the next few months Moët & Chandon and Mannion will reveal their picks of change-makers excelling in various artistic industries in major cities across the country. Mannion will capture the legacy of each individual with new portrait photographs, and Moët & Chandon “will host events in their honor,” according to a press release.
To kick things off, Moët & Chandon is releasing a limited edition bottle of the French fine winery’s best-selling Nectar Impérial Rose (available today) and announcing its first change-maker, New York City-based fashion designer LaQuan Smith. The self-taught celebrity fashion designer has garnered support from celebrities like Beyoncé, Rihanna and Kim Kardashian since starting his glamorous, edgy and sexy label in 2013.
“Like LaQuan, each [Nectar of the Culture] pioneer is a thought leader who is disrupting their respective industries,” says Mannion, who’s shot over 300 album covers for artists like Jay-Z, Drake and Kanye West.
“Working with cultural pioneers has taught me that an artist’s process in any discipline or medium, while seemingly very different, have certain core parallels that exist: passion, focus, exploration, discovery,” Mannion adds. “The meticulous attention to the finest details is also consistent with the art of making the perfect champagne, which has been the motivating force behind Moët & Chandon since 1743.”
Ever since Mannion got his start photographing artists and celebrities, he learned very quickly that Moët & Chandon represented the highest quality champagne.
“There have been countless celebrations that have involved Moët throughout the years but my favorite is from 1995. I was at a massive party to celebrate The Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready To Die album going platinum at the Palladium nightclub in New York City,” he recalls.
“The night was filled with energy and brilliant performances from Biggie, Puff Daddy, Faith Evans, Lil’ Kim and Junior Mafia. After they all performed, I remember everyone anticipating the next moment to document. Puff and Biggie were opening bottle after bottle of Moët & Chandon and sharing it with their family and friends. Little did I know that an image I took that night would become one of my most iconic images of my 25-year career that showcased the legendary Biggie Smalls in his prime.”
As a leading champagne provider, this is not Moët & Chandon’s first high-profile collaboration — the brand previously worked with Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne (the duo behind Public School) and named Virgil Abloh (Off-White founder and artistic director of Louis Vuitton men’s) as an ambassador.
“Moët Nectar Impérial Rosé is the number one rosé in the world, so the company has the opportunity to think on a deeper level about the values they seek in brand ambassadors,” Mannion says. “They have handpicked visionaries who have shaped specific aspects of culture and, in doing so, broke new ground.”
The Moët & Chandon Nectar Impérial Rosé special-edition bottle is available today at select retail locations nationwide and online at Clos19.com.
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