Thursday, April 10, 2008

When Is a Fashion Ad Not a Fashion Ad?

if you haven't been in tune with Marc Jacobs ad campaign for the past year or so, he's been commissioning artEEsts of all mediums (not just fashion photographers) to do his ads (i had a cindy sherman one on my wall at some point last year but i think it fell off the wall and crumpled up so i threw it away). the ads are portraits of prominent in the art/pop world peeps. this article touches on that. i mean, check out victoria beckham (right)...yikes!

When Is a Fashion Ad Not a Fashion Ad?

MANY people look to fashion advertisements as eagerly as they do the layouts, and a perusal of the spring issues finds chalk-striped vamps at Dior, discoing Amazons at D&G, hipsters at Burberry and cloud-borne nymphs at Lanvin. Emerging from all this dreamy splendor, like an uninvited guest, her sharp elbows out, is the figure of Victoria Beckham.

Ms. Beckham, the former Spice Girl whose marriage to the soccer star David Beckham stirred the British press to the point of obsession until the couple moved to America, is not a conventionally beautiful woman, but, to judge by Juergen Teller’s pictures of her for Marc Jacobs’s ads, she is a good sport. Instead of looking like a glamorous celebrity, she has been rendered as an abstraction, a living doll. In the most disquieting image, we see only her bare, high-heeled legs flopping over the side of a shopping bag Mr. Jacobs had specially made to hold her.

“I knew this wasn’t going to be Vogue,” Ms. Beckham said by phone from her home in Los Angeles. “I knew I had to put myself in their hands, which could be quite scary.” She said she had a long discussion with Mr. Jacobs after he first proposed the idea, last September, and a follow-up chat with Mr. Teller, who met Ms. Beckham’s misgivings with a typical mixture of charm and candor. “I told her, ‘You’re the most photographed woman in the world,’ ” Mr. Teller recalled. “ ‘And fashion nowadays is all about product — bags and shoes — and you’re kind of a product yourself, aren’t you?’ She was, like, ‘Uh, yeah.’ ”

As Ms. Beckham calculated the advantages, “People are always going to talk about what Marc does.”

If fashion shows are a way for a designer to think out loud, collaborations with a photographer can help spin those disparate ideas into a story. Both Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein owe a debt to the visionary eye of Bruce Weber, who is really a storyteller. Gianni Versace frequently paid homage to Richard Avedon, whose pictures lent imaginative energy to Versace’s designs. And it seems doubtful that generations of women would have felt quite the same about Yves Saint Laurent’s pantsuits if Helmut Newton had not made them an object of sex and mystery.

Today, the most meaningful collaboration is between Mr. Jacobs and Mr. Teller. In one way or another their ads, begun in 1997, with a photo of Kim Gordon performing in a lavender-pink tulle dress, serve an authentic record of the distractions and tastes of the moment, though Mr. Jacobs insists that they are really about “someone I know or someone I’m interested in seeing in my clothes.” READ MORE

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