MILAN: POLITICS & PRETTY FACES
Byline: Sara Gay Forden
MILAN — No-frills, no-fuss black-and-white images, a boost in budgets, some new faces and curiosity about John F. Kennedy Jr.’s George characterize the spring/summer 1996 ad scene here.
Italy’s top fashion designers are sticking with a traditional print advertising course for spring. But it appears that they’re making room for at least one new player: George executive publisher Michael Berman’s extended schmooze at the women’s shows here last October apparently paid off, as many fashion houses said they’ll give the fledgling political/lifestyle mag a try — at least for the first few months of the year.
“George is the newest thing out there,” said Rita Airaghi, director of communications for Gianfranco Ferre. “And as such we want to try it. Of course, it has to be tested with time, but we will be there at least through February and March,” she said.
Ferre will also repeat its strategy of running spreads in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times in late February and March in addition to its regular lineup of fashion magazines.
“We’re doing George,” confirmed a Gucci spokeswoman. “I don’t know if it will be a forever thing, but we are going to be in the first few issues of the year.”
[Speaking of George, the magazine hit its first big personnel snag this week. Editor Eric Etheridge left the magazine over creative differences after putting out three issues. His post has been eliminated and the magazine will consolidate his responsibilities among existing staff. Etheridge called his departure “pretty amicable.”]
Though few Italian houses agreed to release total media budget figures for the spring season, most are increasing their buying plans by 10 to 50 percent, in line with sales increases.
Gucci, for example, which has programmed a healthy increase in its advertising budget in connection with the company turnaround, will spend some $31 million this year on its total communications program, including advertising, direct mail and public relations, a spokeswoman reported. That’s up from $26 million last year.
The Gucci campaign, which is developed under the supervision of creative director Tom Ford, was once again shot by Mario Testino for the ready-to-wear and by Raymond Meier for the accessories. The one change at Gucci is that this season the house has decided to say farewell to Amber Valletta in favor of several new faces.
On the model beat, Stella Tennant is hot and will be featured in campaigns by Ferre and Valentino. And Ferre is switching photographers this year, chosing Steven Klein over Michel Comte, who did the campaign last year. The Ferre campaign, which was shot in a giant movie studio in Paris, also features Michelle Hicks.
The Giorgio Armani campaign was shot by Peter Lindbergh, who has photographed it for several years. The ads feature a 21-year-old Israeli model named Amit. Armani discovered her when she modeled for his fashion show and picked her as the woman who best exemplified his collection this spring, according to Rosanna Armani, Giorgio’s sister and the person who produces all of the campaigns.
“This season, Armani’s woman is a woman of great charm and seduction. She is elegant and strong. She isn’t sweet. She is sure of herself without being arrogant,” Rosanna Armani explained. The Emporio campaign was shot by Albert Watson in a New York studio and features the young Polish model Magdalena and Justin Chambers, sometimes together.
In terms of media strategy, Armani will continue its standard fare of fashion magazines and newspapers internationally. Armani is also present in George, where the ad appears across from JFK Jr.’s Editor’s Letter and will keep that position throughout the spring. Meanwhile, Armani will also be doing billboards for the Emporio and Jeans collections in Italy, as well as an outdoor billboard campaign for eyewear in the U.S.
The Armani media budget will be increased from last year, due in part to a standard increase tied to sales of the Armani collections and an increased budget for the eyewear campaign, the spokesman said, though he declined to discuss figures. There will also be a selective campaign for the new Armani golf line.
Dolce & Gabbana has also picked a refined, simple and elegant mood for the spring campaign, which features Linda Evangelista again this season. It was shot by Steven Meisel in a New York studio.
“The images of the campaign, as with our previous ones, are about the Mediterranean woman, the woman of the south, which in this case is very much expressed through gestures,” said Carla Buzzi, Dolce & Gabbana’s spokeswoman. The campaign consists of 10 images and will be placed as usual primarily with fashion magazines, other periodicals and dailies.
The Dolce & Gabbana budget will be significantly higher than last year’s, primarily due to two brand new campaigns: one for the Dolce & Gabbana jeans line, which was launched last year but with little advertising, and the other for the new eyewear license with Italian manufacturer Marcolin. The increase for the designer campaign will be from 5 to 8 percent, Buzzi said.
Valentino has opted for Patrick Demarchelier for the women’s campaign, which features Kirsty Hume, Maddalena, Shalom and Trish Goff.
Meanwhile, Prada has signed an exclusive two-year contract with Caroline Murphy, starting with the spring/summer ’96 campaign, which was shot by David Simms in a studio in Paris.
“These are modern, clean pictures that are about sophisticated bad taste,” said Karla Otto, a consultant who handles the Prada account.
“You might initially think that the color and print combinations are the worst taste in the world, but it is so refined it becomes chic. This is what Miuccia was trying to do with the collection,” Otto said.
Jil Sander, who also shows in Milan and who is also represented by Otto, has said goodby to her dark-eyed schoolgirl, replacing her with a crisper, more modern mood. The Sander campaign was shot by Craig McDean and features Guinevere Vensenus.
Mila SchUn, which is trying to work its way back onto the fashion map after several tough years, is coming out with a new campaign shot by Melina Mules.