Television viewers of this year’s Super Bowl on Feb. 5 may notice something unusual amid the usual onslaught of macho-themed commercials for beer, snack chips and pickup trucks.
In a 60-second ad scheduled to run shortly before kickoff, the actor John Malkovich appears as a fashion designer named John Malkovich who discovers that the web domain JohnMalkovich.com is controlled by another John Malkovich — this one a fisherman behind the “ULTIMATE Fishing Site!!”
“How is it that JohnMalkovich.com is taken?” Mr. Malkovich (the actor) asks, sitting before a computer in what appears to be a Paris atelier.
His elegant French assistant stops draping a dress form to answer: “Somebody already snatched it.”
“But I’m him,” the actor says. “There is a film about me being me.”
Is this a meta joke from one of Hollywood’s most clever shape-shifters? Yes and no.
The ad, which was released online Wednesday, is for Squarespace, the website builder and web publishing platform, as part of the company’s “Domains” campaign to encourage people to register sites before they’re scooped up by someone else. JohnMalkovich.com isn’t the real online home of a champion bass fisherman.
Indeed, Mr. Malkovich himself uses the site to sell his men’s wear. And he isn’t pretending to be a fashion designer.
“I always draw everything, correct prototypes, choose accessories, buttons, details,” Mr. Malkovich said of his process in a phone interview.
He recalled being in Vienna a few years ago, and visiting a museum there and being inspired by the painter Gustav Klimt.
“I remember seeing a painting called ‘The Piano Teacher,’” he said, “and going away from there and saying: ‘O.K., if we saw that kind of longish frock coat today, what would it look like? How would it be cut now?’”
While Mr. Malkovich, 63, is known for his acting onstage and in movies like “Dangerous Liaisons,” “Burn After Reading” and “Being John Malkovich,” he has long pursued a side career in fashion. In the early 2000s, he had a short-lived men’s wear line called Uncle Kimono, and made a documentary, “Flipping Uncle Kimono,” about a fashion show he planned to stage in Milan using judo fighters instead of models.
In 2010, he started a second line, Technobohemian, that featured Italian-made sportswear like woven shirts in fanciful patterns, cotton pants and ties.
But the new line, he said, is the first time he is designing under his own name, and the Squarespace e-commerce site has given him the ability to circumvent fashion buyers and some complications of the industry.
“I never had an agent or professional organization behind me,” Mr. Malkovich said. “It’s just something I did. Now we’ll be set up to actually sell directly to people. That’s what I always wanted.”
His clothes have a theatrical quality, and, like the man himself, exist with no consideration to current trends. For shirting, he is a fan of the no-collar band collar, and his Birdbath Sweater ($580) has an unusual shawl collar laced with red ribbon. A red scarf of a silk-cotton blend ($139) is adorned with ghostly figures hand-drawn by Mr. Malkovich.
“They’re not this fall’s colors or this spring’s cut,” he said of his clothes. “That doesn’t really interest me.”
He added: “People have asked: ‘Who is this for? Is it for you? Who is the person who would wear it?’ I’m probably not very good at answering that.”
Mr. Malkovich finds the most pleasure in the process. For many years, he has attended the fabric fair in Paris known as Première Vision, where he spends hours selecting fabrics. He designs in a Paris atelier owned by his business partners, or, if he is traveling for work, in hotel rooms.
A three-minute film commissioned by Squarespace and released this month, “Journey,” captured Mr. Malkovich’s creative process and the struggles he’s faced to get people to take him seriously as a designer.
A second Squarespace ad featuring Mr. Malkovich will air during the Super Bowl, though the actor will not be watching. Instead, he will be in Paris, preparing for the fabric show, which runs from Feb. 7 to 9.
Nor will Mr. Malkovich be in New York to attend the coming New York Fashion Week: Men’s shows.
“Since I don’t follow this season’s trends, I’m not so motivated,” he said. “The whole blah blah blah of the runway shows — it’s not a form that rivets me.”