Mrs Bossa is doffing her paper party crown, and is putting her Serious Hat on.
I’m sure, despite your dear selves, that you haven’t managed to avoid the Superette clothing adverts (below). I’m sure I don’t need to say much more about them, or why they had a lot of people up in arms (I couldn’t include the picture of the lift, as it made me feel a bit sick). The slogan ‘Be Caught Dead in It’ says it all…
|Images from campaignbrief.com|
Since then, I’ve noticed quite a few posts on ‘offensive’ fashion adverts – I even wrote a brief one myself on the Louise Vuitton S/S 10 campaign – and between Vogue Italia’s ‘oil shoot‘ and CK adverts being accused of glamorising gang rape, fashion seems determined to continue courting controversy.
It put me in mind of a project I started when I was studying Art at Goldsmiths College (back in 2001). Younger and feistier, I rather morbidly asked lots of the girls I knew what they were scared of, and asked them to choose images from fashion magazines to be coupled with their quotes. I then embroidered the quotes onto copies of the adverts. Rifling through Vogue, they found images of vulnerable women all too easily!
|“I’m scared of being attacked walking alone at night”|
|“I’m scared of being rejected”|
Long ago as my project was, and mild as these images are by comparison, I still think they raise interesting questions about the nature of fashion advertising (not least how women are depicted!). Obviously my project had an agenda, and this interpretation of ‘vulnerability’ could be read more positively as seductive, languorous, pensive, intimate…the list goes on. It’s the potential for interpretation that fascinates me – do you always know what an ad ‘means’?! – something which nudges it beyond fashion photography into the art arena.
|“I’m scared of being hurt”|
|“I’m scared that I’m not strong enough to defend myself”|
Many brands sell a lifestyle as much as (if not more than) an item of clothing, focusing on decadence, youth, social lives, glamour…think of Michael Kors, or even Tommy Hilfiger. Some take the more ‘catalogue approach’, with the emphasis on the clothes. I’m generalising of course, but there’s no denying that the Superette/CK images above still evoke a strong reaction, perhaps because they do neither of those things – take away the logos and all you’re left with is fairly disturbing photographic images. One cynical blogger said that the CK ad being banned made the label ‘edgy’ again, and there’s no denying that this kind of publicity doesn’t tend to do labels much harm…but is it right?
How do you feel about shock tactics as a way of selling clothes?
Do fashion labels have a responsibility for the way they portray women?
Which ad campaigns have you had a strong reaction to?