Byline: Lisa Lockwood, New York / Katherine Weisman, Paris / James Fallon and Ruth Gurevitch, London / Sara Gay Forden, Milan

NEW YORK — While the international ad community bemoans a lack of creativity in the fashion and beauty category this fall, they do point to a few campaigns that managed to stand out.
In an informal poll of execs in New York, Milan, Paris and London, the campaign that garnered the most votes for the best fashion or beauty campaign this season was Prada, photographed by Glen Luchford. Executives cited the mood, dark colors, art direction and romanticism of the ads.
Guy Laroche was another favorite.
Other campaigns that received honorable mentions include The Gap, Banana Republic, Diane Von Furstenberg, Gucci, Abercrombie & Fitch, Revlon’s ColorStay, Louis Vuitton pens and Kookai.
But overall, ad execs complained that it was a very boring season, and several strained to come up with a single vote. One problem, they said, is that so many campaigns knocked off Prada, with the same dark colors and moodiness.
Here’s what the ad pros had to say about their favorite campaigns, excluding their own:
Sam Shahid, partner, Shahid & Co., New York: “Prada’s still beautiful. It’s very consistent. I like the mood. It’s very romantic and there’s a film quality to it. It’s like a story about to unfold. It has an Italian feel to it, like Italian cinema.”
Maurice Betite, creative director at EURO RSCG/GBHR, Paris: “I think the Prada ads are great. The images are very dark and pretty, and they are very original compared to what other brands are doing. But the images are also very sophisticated for a brand whose fashion and accessories are relatively simple. They do make the brand stand out.”
Caroline Whitley, media manager, Leagas Delaney, London: “There’s a major problem facing advertisers in women’s magazines, and that is the cluttered environment, especially in the U.K. There is a tradition of using product shots for fashion advertising. But in order to make some stand out, an advertiser needs to work to create a unique environment to draw the reader in. I think the people that do that best include Prada, which simply uses beautiful shots, slightly out of focus but very muted and subtle.
“Another one is Tanner Krolle, which is a total and utter departure from the norm with a plain white background and the bag being X-rayed.
“Another is Harrods, which now is just using luggage labels and empty hangars with designers’ names. Women don’t need to see the clothes.”
David Sirieix, owner of an eponymous New York ad agency: “There is nothing really great, and a few are really bad. Prada has half of a good campaign, meaning they have a good art direction, but lack a good story. However, if they can keep their presentation consistent over the next 10 years and resist the pressure to change, they will overpower other designers like Donna Karan and will become the big player of the future.”
Anne de Maupeou, creative director for CLM/BDDO France, Paris: “I really like the photocopy ad done by Le Nouvel Eldorado for Guy Laroche.”
Sylvie Prieur, director of new business development, JWT France, Paris: “The campaign that has captured my attention — not because of the concept, because there is really not a concept — is the one for Guy Laroche. It expresses a very interesting woman, in its form. I am not sure what they are trying to say with the text, but it is an ad that gets away from Laroche’s traditional image, and it totally renews Laroche style. It gives the brand a more modern and contemporary image.
“For accessories, the campaign Louis Vuitton has done for its new pens is the most powerful it has ever done, across all product lines. It is very Vuitton and shows that the company is looking towards a younger generation of customers.”
Richard Kirshenbaum, co-chairman, Kirshenbaum, Bond & Partners, New York: “My favorite ad of the season is Diane Von Furstenberg. It’s clever, sexy, witty and relevant.”
Lynne Seid, president of Partners & Shevack, New York: “The fashion world has been very boring. I kind of liked the Gucci stuff. The shots of the fall collection, shot by a surveillance camera, were very edgy, very film noir. It’s avant garde and helps create a fashion forward and very avant garde image for Gucci.
“In cosmetics, hands-down, the efforts for ColorStay for Revlon have been terrific. The use of Cindy Crawford demonstrating the product’s benefits — when she kisses the boy and nothing shows up on his face. The script is great, the demos are great. The print and TV are totally integrated. They put meat on the bone in the color cosmetics category.”
George Fertitta, president, Margeotes, Fertitta & Partners, New York: “I like the Old Navy work. I think it’s fresh and different. The TV’s a little self-conscious, but it’s right for the market. It’s a throwback kind of advertising. It sort of works for me. It’s almost a parody of old advertising but it’s very fresh.”
Ed Taussig, group creative director, Grey Advertising, New York: “I kind of like the new Gap stuff. I think it’s managed to find its way to feeling natural. It’s seamless, but the people feel real. It shows merchandise and attitude at the same time. The quality of the photography and casting is good.”
Charles DeCaro, partner, Laspata/DeCaro, New York: “What immediately comes to mind is the new Dior campaign. You’re not quite sure if it’s a photograph or an illustration. It’s compelling, in that respect. It’s also visually stimulating and stands apart from the preponderance of dark, depressing ads. The color jumps at you. It’s soft and pretty. It stands out in a sea of depressing photographs. It’s uplifting.”
Mike Toth, president and creative director, Toth Design & Advertising, Concord, Mass.: “I like Abercrombie & Fitch’s stuff. I think it’s captured something that people relate to. It seems real, and it seems honest, and I like the fact that they’re doing it in black and white. It’s about the kids, the spirit. The casting is believable, and it’s beautifully photographed. It seems to have captured real, honest American moments. What’s great about the campaign is that they’re carrying it throughout the stores. I love the catalog too.”
Elio Fiorucci, founder of Fiorucci Megastores: “I like [Salon Selection by David LaChapelle] because it’s innovative, funny and colorful. Enough of all these dark, dreary ads.”
Fabrizio Ferri, photographer: “I like these ads [Gucci watches and Anne Klein accessories] because the products themselves are the image: Like it or not, you know what you’re getting.”
Donny Deutsch, president and chief executive officer, Deutsch Inc., New York: “Nothing jumps out, nothing sparks. For a lot of these campaigns, if they didn’t have the name attached, nobody would look at them. I think it’s a non-event season. Nobody gets the Oscar.”
Dominique Julien, president, Le Nouvel Eldorado, Paris: “For fall, there is not one fashion campaign that really hits me. But for fashion chains, the Kookai ads are pretty good. They have two new poster ads, one featuring a woman painting her toenails with little men stuck between each toe. It’s pretty funny, and there is humor, whereas I generally find that fashion advertising is too conventional.”

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