PARIS -- Adieu to raunch and sex, bonjour to innocence and femininity.
That's the message in French ad campaigns for spring 2002, which have ditched the hard-edged in favor of a Snow White approach -- in some cases literally. Louis Vuitton, for instance, has gone for a fairy-tale theme for its spring ads, while Dior has opted for a celestial bubble bath.
"We all agreed that we should do something a little outside of reality," said Marc Jacobs, Vuitton's creative director. "That's part of what luxury is: selling a dream."
Vuitton president Marcello Bottoli said the house's ads, photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggot, were based on "Snow White," "Alice in Wonderland" and "Sleeping Beauty." "But it's still very Vuitton because it's travel -- only this time, the voyage is an interior one, the voyage of the imagination," he said.
Most firms insist their campaigns were not created as a direct reaction to Sept. 11 -- even if the images are soothing. Instead, they say their ads reflect the mood of the collections, which boasted lots of white, upbeat clothes with a holiday feel. Designers also insisted their spring ad budgets are on a par with spring 2001, although they admitted they have kept a tight rein on expenses for the shoots. Some firms are rethinking how the money is spent, though. Givenchy is focusing its print spend for spring -- the first featuring the rtw designs of new artistic director Julien Macdonald -- only on "leading" fashion titles, opting for "high-impact" multipage spreads of up to eight pages in such magazines as French Vogue, Italian Vogue and V, said Amelie Rouyer, advertising manager. The campaign was shot by Mario Testino, with Carmen Kass as the featured model.
Karl Lagerfeld warned that it's dangerous to be too politically correct in these times. "Even if the world has changed, people still want to be happy," he said.
Lagerfeld shot the Chanel campaign with Stella Tennant in Biarritz, France. The mostly black-and-white images have a cinematic quality, but the intent was to capture Tennant as epitomizing and idealizing the Chanel customer. "She looks like somebody who owns the clothes, and that's the best thing that can happen," Lagerfeld said.Tom Ford, Gucci Group creative director, described the YSL Rive Gauche campaign as a "continuation" of the past two seasons, with photographer Steven Meisel zooming in on leather skirts pierced with gold rings, and peplum jackets with intricate embroidery.
"We wanted to show the handiwork and put the emphasis on the details," Ford said.
John Galliano said the Dior campaign, featuring Gisele Bundchen and shot by Nick Knight amid a sea of suds that sometimes resemble clouds, is positive and optimistic. "It's a free spirit, a new spontaneous energy," he said. "Overt sexuality is passe."
His is a sentiment that was echoed by many designers, from Jean Paul Gaultier to James Aguiar, creative consultant at Nina Ricci, which reunited with photographer David Hamilton, whom it had used in the Seventies, to re-create a soft, feminine atmosphere. At Chloe, the predominant element of the campaign, shot in Cape Town, South Africa, by German photographer Horst Diekgerdes, is the sun, said designer Phoebe Philo. "The sun creates a sensual atmosphere in a feeling of extreme well-being, explaining why the images seem overexposed," she said. "The sexiness doesn't need to be obvious anymore."
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