SEX TO SUPERHEROES

Byline: Miles Socha / Robert Murphy

PARIS--After spring campaigns that fairly panted with sex appeal, French designers toned it down for fall, opting instead for chic images that range from romantic to heroic and inspirations that range from formal portraiture to cinematic storyboards.
"Obvious sexy is looking a little tired now," said John Galliano, whose ads for Dior last season featured an oily, sweaty Angela Lindvall in various contortions on a vintage Cadillac. "It's quite fresh to put clothing on rather than take it off."
Galliano again worked with Nick Knight for Dior, but this time enlisted the stunt coordinator from the film "The Matrix" to put model Karen Elson through her superhero paces, cast as Pokemon, a Brad Pitt-esque fighter and an acrobatic Gypsy. The visuals, crackling with energy and, well, actual crackles, were inspired by comic strips.
"We wanted it to be dynamic: to show that she is in complete control of her own destiny," Galliano said. "It's very optimistic. It's got a lot of energy and she looks strong."
While not leaping over any tall buildings--or fixing any cars--Lindvall looks completely in control in Chanel's cinematic campaign by Karl Lagerfeld. Shot digitally in Biarritz, the campaign juxtaposes glamorous, but natural shots of Lindvall against images of the seaside, nature, roadways and architecture. The campaign, titled "Storyboard," will appear on double pages with four images.
"It's like a Godard movie," said Lagerfeld, referring to the French filmmaker Jean Luc Godard, who is famous for such films as "Contempt" and "Breathless." "It's an evolution from last season."
Emblematic of the shift from hard-edged sex appeal to a more natural, almost journalistic style in campaigns, Emanuel Ungaro chose photographer Juergen Teller for its fall campaign, which features Belgian model Anouck Lepere loafing around a London hotel.
"We wanted to show something more natural, more real," said Giambattista Valli, creative director of Ungaro. Thus the choice of Teller, known for his gritty realism, and such poses as lying on the floor. "There's a distance from the clothes. They're not treated as so precious. She's lying down. She doesn't worry. The idea is not to be in a window display, but to be alive in the clothes and to live in them. Even the makeup and the hair is not so strict."
Ditto for Chloe's campaign, which endeavored to make the model Kasia Pysiak "beautiful without any artifice--no makeup, no sophisticated hair."
The campaign, shot for the first time by Vanina Sorrenti, the sister of photographer Mario Sorrenti, is the swan song for designer Stella McCartney, who is setting up her own house with Gucci Group. But the house described it as the most "romantic, sensual and sophisticated" she ever did, with the location, Notre Dame, echoing the Gothic influences in the collection.
At Louis Vuitton, the house's communication director Isabelle Jordan-Ghizo said Patrick Demarchelier's pictures taken in and around Paris continues last season's travel theme. "It mirrors the theme we started in spring showing the full collection--bags, shoes and ready-to-wear--near recognizable monuments around the world," she said. "But this season, we wanted to be more suggestive by playing with the iconography of travel without showing exact locations." The campaign features models in unidentified airports, train stations and the Georges restaurant here. She acknowledged the trend to more romanticism in advertising. "I think recent films, like 'In the Mood for Love' and 'The Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain,' which are very romantic, are having a strong visual influence," she said.
Celine's Lucien Goddet, director of communications, said the fall campaign, shot by Michael Thompson and featuring models Karolina Kurkova and An Oost, aimed to continue with the sexy spirit of spring. "It is meant to be provocative, direct and minimalist," he said. "We wanted to shoot in the studio again in order to eliminate all material distraction and focus on the sexy attitude of the clothes." He said this season the house also aimed to feature more accessories than last season.
Hermes's director of house image, Stephan Wargnier, said the fall campaign was meant to be "evocative of Hermes's commitment to precision and luxurious details." Shot by photographer Guido Mocafico, it features Hermes products juxtaposed with exotic plant and wildlife. "We wanted it to be poetic," said Wargnier. "We also wanted to tell a story by providing exact legends of the types of plants and wildlife featured in each photo." Three houses opted for black and white this season: Cerruti, Loewe and Jean Paul Gaultier.
In the naturalistic vein, Gaultier's pictures, shot by Jean Baptiste Mondino, are not retouched in order to better resemble old portraits of famous artists.
Givenchy, for the second season running, turned to photographer Annie Leibovitz. Featuring models Annie Morton and Kirsten Owen, it was shot in a mansion in upstate New York. "It's in the same vein as last season, but it is more romantic, more sophisticated and more mysterious," said Amelie Rouyer, Givenchy advertising manger. Some houses, including Celine and Givenchy, said their advertising budget would be on par with last year, but several houses cited double-digit increases, including Louis Vuitton. Chloe said it upped its media plan 50 percent.

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