The Time Mikhail Gorbachev Became Louis Vuitton's Next Big Supermodel

Without a doubt, the Soviet Union was one of the most complicated geopolitical entities in history. As Britannica says, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was formed in 1922 and lasted until 1991. It was made up of 15 Soviet Socialist Republics, such as Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, and many more, making up, in terms of area, what was the largest country in the entire world. The USSR was also incredibly diverse, one of the most in history, as it contained over 100 different nationalities and many, many cultures and ethnicities. Under Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik's command, the czarist era of Russia came to an end after the Russian revolution (also via Britannica).

The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and the last USSR leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, died August 30. Reuters reports that Gorbachev was responsible for ending the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Arguably, however, the biggest highlight of his career would be seeing the end of the Soviet Union during his leadership. With that being said, Gorbachev wasn't beyond accepting the occasional commercial activity, and was, for a brief moment, a Louis Vuitton model (via NBC News)

Who was Mikhail Gorbachev?

The leaders of the Soviet Union were often just as complicated and interesting as the nation itself, and Gorbachev was no exception. As Britannica says, Gorbachev was born on March 2, 1931, in Russia into a peasant family. Gorbachev was active in politics from an early age, having joined the Young Communist League. He eventually studied law at the Moscow State University and became a full-fledged member of the Communist Party. Gorbachev's first big political experience happened in 1970, when he became the regional party committee's first secretary. 

It was on March 14, 1990, that Gorbachev became the Soviet Union's elected president. History explains that Gorbachev originally was slated for a five-year term, but the Soviet Union collapsed the very next year. Gorbachev eventually stepped down as president, signaling the end of the USSR. Gorbachev's legacy is complicated, as he has been criticized for mishandling the Soviet economy, while also earning praise for improving the welfare of the Soviet people. 

How Gorbachev became a Louis Vuitton model

Gorbachev wasn't only concerned with geopolitical matters. Besides his political interests, he also had a history of non-political activity of a more commercial nature. Perhaps most famous was his TV ad for Pizza Hut. As Independent reports, the 1997 ad features Russian people discussing Gorbachev in a Pizza Hut, when the man himself walks in with his granddaughter, and everyone praises both Gorbachev and Pizza Hut. For a country that was once opposed to American capitalism, the turn was incredibly striking — perhaps the point. (He followed the company's 1995 ad which featured Donald Trump and his then-wife, Ivana.) The money, he said, was for his nonprofit foundation.

But Gorbachev's commercial opportunities didn't stop at pizza, as he was also once a Louis Vuitton model. NBC News reports that Gorbachev modeled in an ad for the fashion brand back in 2007. The print media ad, photographed by Annie Leibovitz, showed Gorbachev sitting in a car next to the Berlin Wall, with a Vuitton bag next to him. It was part of a series of seasonal ads that Vuitton normally runs. At the time, the ad was somewhat controversial for its assumed political implications (per The New York Times). However, Louis Vuitton representatives denied the politics, saying that the ad was more personal than political. As for Gorbachev's motives, Independent reports he did it to fund equipment for a medical center specializing in treating children with leukemia.