Set in literary landmark the London Library, Montblanc’s new campaign is inspired by the city’s traditional yet subversive spirit

Words: Jonathan Whiley

Few places fire the imagination and spark the creative spirit like libraries. At their best, they can act as a window into the soul of a country, culture or city – capturing centuries of storytelling and enlightenment.

Montblanc, world-renowned for its luxury goods – and particularly for its beautiful pens – has drawn inspiration from these literary destinations in its new Library Spirit campaign, inviting us into a universe of words as a brand that is passionately rooted in the culture of writing.

Placing the spotlight on how this spirit transforms through different cities, the second chapter of the campaign shines a light on London, exploring the capital and how its timelessness is punctuated by the subversivethat brings it to life.

Shot by acclaimed photographer Mariano Vivanco, the campaign is set at the London Library in St James’s Square. One of the world’s leading literary institutions, it was established in 1841 and has about one million titles in its collection – that is more than 17 miles of bookshelves covering more than 2,000 subjects – with the likes of Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin amongits founding subscribers.

Agatha Christie, Laurence Olivier and Arthur Conan Doyle were all members; Bram Stoker became a member with a joining fee of three shillings and fourpence and Virginia Woolf listed her occupation as “spinster” on the application form. Bill Bryson said that “it’s the most wonderful place I know. I would live there if they would let me bring a bed in”.

Montblanc’s campaign features actor James Norton – perhaps best known for his starring role in cult drama Happy Valley – alongside model, singer and author Karen Elson and model Arthur Gosse.

The visual story contrasts the classic elegance of a modern-day “dandy” with the attributes formed from embracing London’s alternative side; a union of elegance and unconventionality.

James Norton outside a library

“The London Library setting is not only a place for the traditional studying of the classics, but also a place influenced by the bustling, multicultural city around it, becoming a place for scratching beneath the surface and finding a new wave of inspiration in something that is unexpected, that goes against the current,” says Marco Tomasetta, Montblanc’s artistic director.

“In this second episode of the Library Spirit, the London spirit encourages us to embrace timeless classics but make them our own, repurposing them to suit our own style and subverting the expected.”

The campaign features a selection of Montblanc products that reflect the blend of classic and alternative style that the city exudes. These include the Meisterstück Around The World in 80 Days Doué Classique fountainpen, celebrating a classic literary adventure; the soft mini bag inspired by the art of writing with its external writing instrument holder; and the Montblanc 1858 Iced Sea watch with its timeless design codes and elegant grey dial.

Synonymous with excellence in craftsmanship and design, Montblanc has been pushing the boundaries of innovation ever since the maison first revolutionised the culture of writing in 1906.

Ingenuity and imagination continue to be driving forces today with expressions of its craftsmanship across its categories; from leather goods to watches,new technologies and, of course, exquisite writing nstruments of pure imagination.

James Norton and a red haired lady on a sofa