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Fashion Ads – Debates & Trends



FCUK French Connection AdThe power of the image has reached a whole new level. Advertising has become such a big business that it’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 they’ll react to – whether it’s funny, cool, surprising or more often than not aspirational.

Airbrushing and retouchingThe 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. “In real life we are nothing like the airbrushed images presented by beauty companies. Yes, it’s good to have something to aspire to, but it has gone too far – all that airbrushing, post-production, drawing in fake eyelashes. I would love to advise make-up companies on how to be more ‘real’ in their advertising.”

Sharon Dowsett make-upBeauty 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. “I want to ask whether beauty magazines and beauty companies are letting women down. Are we not telling them the truth about the products they’re buying? I’m not in opposition to the beauty establishment, but I hope through the site to become an alternative ‘voice’ and dispense non-corporate advice.”

Kylie's grunge lookAlong 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 Minogue’s made-over look by stylist Katie Grand for the March issue of Pop magazine. It’s the heavy black eyeliner and greasy hair of the grunge years meets David La Chapelle’s glam porn style, as seen in the new Patrick Cox campaign featuring Sophie Dahl. Stateside American athletic shoe brand – 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.

FCUK logoRecalling 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 “a dyslexic variation on a dirty word.” 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.

M&S go for sexier imagesAs the old saying goes, “sex sells”, and it’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 April’s issue of Vogue and you’ll find the new summer range by M&S looking decidedly seductive. It’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 – 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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