Byline: Lisa Lockwood

NEW YORK — Sure, sex sells, and that was one of the more dominant themes in fashion advertising this spring. But ad executives also appreciated some of the more visually enticing campaigns that weren’t so overt.
In an informal poll, a number of advertising, creative and image pros named the Donna Karan Collection campaign as their favorite of the season because of its compelling imagery featuring Jeremy Irons and Milla Jovovich. In second place was the Prada ready-to-wear campaign, which earned several mentions for its serene beach scenes and photography by Cedric Bouchet, as well as a nod for its beauty campaign featuring single-serve treatments.
Other campaigns that garnered kudos were Christian Dior’s greasy hardcore chick ads; Diesel’s over-the-top social commentary about Africa; Helmut Lang’s graphic treatment; Yves Saint Laurent’s rtw campaign with a blond man and woman in tuxedo jackets kissing, and YSL’s Opium, featuring a fleshy provocative pose of Sophie Dahl.
The execs were asked to pick their favorite fashion and beauty ad this season, print or TV, excluding their own. Here’s what they had to say:

Charles DeCaro, partner, Laspata/DeCaro: “Donna Karan Collection shot in Vietnam. First of all, the imagery is beautiful. It looks as if there was an effort made by the company to create some compelling, eye-pleasing visuals. It’s not like the preponderance of all the other ads with a photo and a logo. There’s a narrative. The casting is perfect and it looks aspirational, yet it evokes some cinematic sub-text. It’s just beautiful.”

Alex Gonzalez, partner in A/R Media:
“I really thought the Donna Karan ads were very good this season. The company has been very successful in playing that celebrity thing. It wasn’t gratuitous. They gave the actors a story line to work against. It said ‘Donna Karan’ to me.”

Richard Kirshenbaum, partner and creative director, Kirshenbaum, Bond & Partners: “I really liked the photography [by Mikael Jansson] for the Donna Karan campaign. It’s more artistic and interesting than most campaigns that are out there.”

Doug Lloyd, owner, Lloyd & Co.: “I like Helmut Lang because I like the bold graphic treatment of the typography and photography.
“I liked Prada for its graphic, simplistic photography, and I also liked the YSL black and white ready-to-wear campaign. “

George Fertitta, partner, Margeotes, Fertitta & Partners: “I love the Prada beauty print ads. The product is big and breakthough. The whole single serving is a great concept. It’s simple and clean and doesn’t screw it up with models.
“I also like the Clinique ads. They’re classic and they continue to use great photographers — and it has some wit. Skinlights For Revlon is also a nice campaign. It’s modern and more upscale [than previous ads] and it’s a nice evolution from where they’ve been.”

Sam Shahid, partner, Shahid & Co.: “Prada comes to mind. I love its cleanness. It was summer and the beach and great imagination there. It’s really beautiful, very serene and just different. You notice it.
“I also love the ads for Dior for Men by Avedon. It was just a teaser, but I can’t wait to see the whole thing. It says a lot about Hedi Slimane.”

Barbara Dente, partner, Dente & Cristina: “My favorite was Opium. I thought it was page-stopping. It had a different expression in terms of position and the contrast of the white skin and black background, and a provocative pose.”

Peter Arnell, chairman and chief creative officer, AG Worldwide: “My favorite was David Yurman, the black and white campaign shot by Peter Lindbergh. It was completely natural and deep.”

Paul Meany, art director, TBWA/Chiat/Day: “I thought the Diesel campaign was pretty entertaining. It was something that managed to be socially relevant and not take itself too seriously. It’s hard in this category to find anything with humor. It also made a commentary on fashion itself.”

Simon Doonan, creative director, Barneys New York: “I think my favorites are the Target ads on TV because I love all the Warholian repetition of product. They’re extremely colorful and then take mundane things like Tide boxes and Windex and repeat them insanely. It makes a very soothing and witty kind of visual. How clever, I think, that they got those companies to kick in the ad dollars. Visually it’s an incredible feat, but it looks like an incredible concept. Twizzlers and Tide, it’s apparent they kicked in the bucks to support it. Grocery products are close to my heart. Our Barneys windows use the same aesthetic.”

Fabien Baron, owner and creative director, Baron & Baron: “I think the Versace campaign was my favorite [showing two women, one dressed and one partially dressed, in bed]. I liked the way Malgosia looks. It’s new. There’s a nice reference to Man-Ray about it. The coloration is divine.”

Madonna Badger, principal, chief
creative officer, Badger, Kry & Partners: “I loved the Gucci ads. They feel like a beautiful portrait of a woman and the clothes come second, which feels completely fresh to me. It’s modern and sexy.
“I also love the Dior campaign — these wonderful, gritty, greasy hardcore chicks who are sexy and interesting.
“Lastly, [there’s] the new Gap campaign, with the interaction and emotion and the feeling of the people together. They’ve done a brilliant job of going from a commodity-based business to having a great sense of individuality to each person.”

David Lipman, chairman, Lipman, Richmond, Greene: “Balenciaga. I think it’s good because it shows the irreverence of the brand, with the dual images. One side is crazy and one is regular.
“I also like Michael Kors fragrance and clothing ads. I love the graphic element of it. It’s really sexy, bold and clean.”

Donald Ziccardi, president, president and chief executive officer of Ziccardi & Partners: “The Jean Paul Gaultier Fragile campaign. It’s a combination of a live model and the fragrance, and has highly innovative packaging. ”