11 January 2009

Scenes from Home

Bottega Veneta consistently has the loveliest ad campaigns. They take care to actually show the clothes and the bags in the photographs. This might seem like an obvious goal of fashion advertising, however looking through magazines it becomes clear that most of the fashion houses are actually just selling an attitude, a feeling, a scene. Thus to see an outfit and its detailing is somewhat shocking. Additionally, they take risks by switching photographers each season, varying the moods and colors according to the whims of whom they have hired. Here are a few from the past couple of years:

By Annie Leibovitz

With the emaciated January magazines out, I was interested to see what fashion advertising had in store and discovered that it was much of the same - the oiled down models, the jaded expressions, the lavish, tropical settings - the jungle, a yacht, a private airfield. The ad for Dior's perfume "Miss Dior" shows a model in a poofy fuchsia dress being carried away by pastel balloons over Paris, clutching only a giant bottle of the aforementioned scent, juxtaposed with a close up of the model biting the bottle seductively. It's amusing.

Thus, I was pleasantly surprised to find the following photo from Bottega's Spring/Summer 2009 campaign.

Shot in a classic mid-century modern (or California Modern) home by Larry Sultan, there is a terrific feeling of real anxiety in this photograph. The staging is a bit melodramatic, but that's just me being picky. Larry Sultan is known for his photographic narratives of home life, first seen in "Pictures from Home" which featured his parents in their post-retirement lives (below), and then in his more exaggerated "The Valley" where he "looks at the transformation of middle-class suburban homes into stage sets for adult films. Essentially still frames from Boogie Nights.

It's clear that Mr. Sultan was the perfect choice to capture the present mood. In spite of the somber colors and expressions, he still somehow manages to make the clothes seem appealing. Maybe it's the same reason we find Mad Men so glamorous.

As for all of those other ads, well, in case you don't believe me, below is a sampling of the campaigns at large - pretty, but boring.

No contest.

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