Cara Delevingne and Olivier Rousteing are paying tribute to Janet Jackson for Balmain’s spring 2019 campaign.

In one black-and-white photograph, the 22-year-old model/actress stands in front of the fashion brand’s creative director, who covers her breasts with his hands.

The image is a recreation of the 1993 Patrick Demarchelier photograph of Jackson posing in front of her then-boyfriend, Rene Elizondo.

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The snap later became part of the singer’s artwork for her eponymously-titled album and a Rolling Stone cover, described by Rousteing as “a big pop culture moment of our childhood”.

The designer posted several of the images from the campaign on Instagram, proclaiming his love for Delevingne and describing Jackson’s picture as “iconic”.

Opening up about Balmain's latest campaign, shot by Berlin-based photographer Dan Beleiu, the 33-year-old designer tells WWD that while the images are “very sensual, there is nothing flirtatious about them”.

Balmain SS19 campaign; Photographer Dan Beleiu (Courtesy of Balmain)

“The campaign shows the reunion of two skin tones, one black – or mixed race – and one white.

“Choosing to pose naked was all about authenticity. We’re going back to basics: I wanted something pure and transparent.”

In another image, Delevingne reclines nude in front of a large ‘B’, which is a reimagined version of Pierre Balmain’s original logo for the brand that Rousteing unveiled in 2018.

The designer says choosing Delevingne, who opened the Balmain spring 2019 show in Paris last October, to be the face of the label's campaign marks an important moment in their friendship.

“I love her so much that I don’t want to see any clothes on her,” he explains. “Her gaze is so strong and magnetic, it’s nearly an item of clothing in itself.”

Balmain SS19 campaign; Photographer Dan Beleiu (Courtesy of Balmain)

The newly-released campaign images come days after Rousteing returned Balmain to the haute couture calendar for the first time in 16 years in Paris earlier this month.

The runway show marked the latest sign of the brand’s expansion, which also involves the launch of the Balmain app and the forthcoming opening of a new flagship on Paris’ rue Saint Honoré.

Rousteing has stood at the creative helm of Balmain since 2011, making him the second youngest designer to lead a prominent French fashion house.

Over the years, the Frenchman has pioneered several successful collaborations including a range of lipsticks with L’Oreal Paris in 2017 and a H&M collection in 2015.

“I create a world that is expensive because with Balmain it’s luxury, but if you think of my ideas and ideologies it’s more than a price on the clothes,” he said at WWD’s Retail & Apparel CEO Summit in 2018.

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