Fashion Ads – Debates & Trends
The power of the image has reached a whole new level. Advertising has become such a big business that itâ€™s no longer restricted to TV and print but appears practically everywhere from the side of a passing taxi to the back of a bus ticket. With all this image influx, companies are under pressure to get it right, targeting their market audience and arresting them with an image that theyâ€™ll react to – whether itâ€™s funny, cool, surprising or more often than not aspirational.
The latest debate amongst the image creators of beauty and fashion is the use of the airbrush/retouching/Photoshop work. Top make-up artist Sharon Dowsett thinks it has gone too far and is unfair to consumers. â€œIn real life we are nothing like the airbrushed images presented by beauty companies. Yes, itâ€™s good to have something to aspire to, but it has gone too far â€“ all that airbrushing, post-production, drawing in fake eyelashes. I would love to advise make-up companies on how to be more â€˜realâ€™ in their advertising.â€
Beauty editors and make-up artists have been debating the issue with Sharon, along with views on aging and the current trend for quick-fix treatments such as Botox and plastic surgery. Next month Sharon wants to run an open debate on advertising on her website www.i-shadow.net. â€œI want to ask whether beauty magazines and beauty companies are letting women down. Are we not telling them the truth about the products theyâ€™re buying? Iâ€™m not in opposition to the beauty establishment, but I hope through the site to become an alternative â€˜voiceâ€™ and dispense non-corporate advice.â€
Along with the current liberal dose of post-production techniques – photography styles also move with the trends of the moment. Grunge with porn overtones – is the look of choice by high-fashion advertisers for the new season. Demonstrated aptly by Kylie Minogueâ€™s made-over look by stylist Katie Grand for the March issue of Pop magazine. Itâ€™s the heavy black eyeliner and greasy hair of the grunge years meets David La Chapelleâ€™s glam porn style, as seen in the new Patrick Cox campaign featuring Sophie Dahl. Stateside American athletic shoe brand â€“ Pony are going all the way by using well-known porn stars to advertise its footwear and the latest ads for the DSquared label features Naomi Campbell in a parody of a porn film.
Recalling the furor over the reasonably tame Opium perfume Ads, again featuring a sprawling Sophie Dahl – it will be interesting to see the reaction to this grunge-glam-porn trend. French Connection UK is already causing offence with its US audience with their renowned FCUK Ad campaign. An eight-page colour supplement that ran in the Boston Globe during early March began a flow of streaming complaints. The advert was branded as â€œa dyslexic variation on a dirty word.â€ The centre-spread caused the most outrage as it not only featured the FCUK logo in large print but was also twinned with an image of a young model in hot pants with her legs apart. Readers complained that while you might have such an image in magazine – you would not expect to find it in a Sunday paper.
As the old saying goes, â€œsex sellsâ€, and itâ€™s a concept advertisers tend to fall back on, especially in times of uncertainty. Even M&S – a brand linked to the sensible middle market are throwing in a bit of sexy sensuality to promote their latest collection. Turn to the Cheap Chic Guide in Aprilâ€™s issue of Vogue and youâ€™ll find the new summer range by M&S looking decidedly seductive. Itâ€™s a radical change in direction for the company, steered by creative director Yasmin Yusuf, who is responsible for getting the store back on track. By identifying the different types of M&S customer she also brought in ranges to appeal to a new audience. Yusuf has managed the very difficult task of winning M&S high-fashion credibility, last years profits were up by 30 per cent â€“ a very different story from the M&S of a few years ago.
by Jo Iles
What do you think about advertising in the fashion industry? Do you feel that the unrealistic images of perfection have gone too far?
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