Monday, 23 March 2009 13:31
By Amanda Jean Boyle Johns Hopkins newsletters
A surefire way for a fashion magazine to make money is through the sale of advertisement space. Fashion magazines, while providing copious amounts of joy, are also businesses. Even the less commercial glossies need to finance their printing. Enter, advertisers.
Now, to be completely redundant, times are tough. The fashion industry is not immune, and it is suffering from a lack of eager advertisers.
The New York Times reported recently that Vogue and Lucky's ad percentages were down 44 percent from January 2008 to January 2009, Allure had a decline of 41 percent and Teen Vogue posted a 29 percent decline.
Some might think, "Well, that's rough for Condé Nast and all, but isn't that good for the reader? Ads are so annoying." Ah, what a na've musing in the face of the wonders that are fashion advertisements. A good ad catches the reader's attention in some way: humor, sentiment, sex appeal, bold graphics, et cetera. Fashion advertising has evolved to a higher level. They incorporate these qualities, and they incorporate them better. Fashionadvertisement has become an art form, and at its best is comparable to the editorials they run alongside.
Take, for instance, the Spring 2009 Jil Sander advertisements. Shot by Willy Vanderparre, the images are arresting. The sleek and sexy minimalism and the high black and white contrast literally made my jaw drop. Vanderparre posed the models, wearing black outfits, against an empty white background.
The effect of the high contrast and the cut of the clothing is that the models look fluid and almost technological. I didn't even like the Jil Sander Spring 2009 collection that much, but this ad campaign has stuck it in my thoughts. And that's what the best advertising does: It sells the product regardless of the actual appeal of said product.
I've become obsessed with certain ad campaigns in the past. The flowery and romantic Scarlett Johansson for Louis Vuitton campaign for the Spring 2007 collection. The Dolce and Gabbana Spring 2008 campaign with Jessica Stam, Lily Donaldson and Gemma Ward lounging around an art filled attic.
Most all Juicy Couture campaigns with their loud colors find a place in my heart. The Vivienne Westwood ads for Spring 2008 featuring Pam Anderson are very kitschy and fun. These are all crushes. They fade away after some time.
But then there are the campaigns that stay in my conscious. Stella McCartney often employs a cut-out effect in her ads: a full page picture overlayed with one or several smaller pictures cut into animals or symbols. This turned out best for the Spring 2008 campaign, shot by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin.
The main picture is model Amber Valletta posed on a paradise-esque beach in a vibrantly colored floral dress. Over this, there are two shark-shaped cut-outs, containing photos with a cooler color palette of purples and blues. The juxtaposition of both the colors of the photos and the mood of the feminine dresses and the roughness of the sharks is beautiful.
By far my favorite ad campaigns come from Marc Jacobs. Or more specifically, Juergen Teller. There can't be a discussion of modern fashion advertising without bringing up Teller. His photographs have made Marc Jacobs advertisements iconic.
The cult filmmaker Harmony Korine pigging out at a burger joint for the men's Spring 2008 campaign. The coldly sophisticated and sexual Charlotte Rampling shots from 2004. The kooky doll-like Victoria Beckham campaign for Spring 2008.
Teller's photographs have a frozen eeriness to them. The color is bleached out, and whoever the model is, whatever they are doing, the photograph seems a little bit sinister.
At the same time, they are always very witty - sort of absurd. He put Beckham into a giant Marc Jacobs bag, with only her feet sticking out: a fashionista Wicked Witch of the West.
My favorite Juergen campaign is the Dakota Fanning Spring 2007 campaign, with Fanning posing in various outfits against a dreary white wall.
She is clearly younger than the target audience for the clothing - Fanning was 12 at the time - and strikes exaggerated poses, looking both goofy and sort of ghost-like in the emptiness.
Teller has received a lot of attention and respect for his artful ads, and while the times are tough and we may not be able to afford the pieces of clothing he shoots, at least we can enjoy looking at them.