Paris: After boxing champion Muhammad Ali in June, the American swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated athlete in history, has been chosen by French luggage Louis Vuitton for its new advertising campaign launched on Thursday.
The photo, taken by Annie Leibovitz, shows the swimming champion in a three-piece suit and Louis Vuitton travel bag at his feet. He sat next to the former Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina, (77) who held before him the record for most Olympic medals (18).
"Two extraordinary journey, the same destiny," says the legend of advertising the brand of luxury giant LVMH.
"What brings the foremost champions is their willingness to share their passion. A value equally dear to Louis Vuitton," said the the company in a statement.
"Michael Phelps is a great champion," says a LV spokesperson. This campaign is part of the will of the brand to be associated with "iconic figures, who embody a sense of achievement and commitment."
A second shot by Annie Leibovitz, seen on several websites, is the swimmer to the 22 Olympic medals in a bathtub, in a swimsuit and with goggles on his forehead, a Vuitton bag placed on the floor.
More provocative, this photo is not part of the official campaign.
In its latest campaign video, Louis Vuitton had staged the American rapper Mos Def in the role of Muhammad Ali. Actors Sean Connery and Angelina Jolie, the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Bono were also raised in the past for the campaigns of the trunk-maker.
Michael Phelps, 27, has put an end to his distinguished career at the London Olympics, after having won six medals including four gold.