INSIDE LOOK AT FRENCH ADS

Byline: Miles Socha / Robert Murphy

PARIS — Who needs boring product shots when sex and surrealism are in the air?
Often resembling the kind of editorial layouts found in avant-garde fashion magazines, this fall’s French campaigns range from sexy at Christian Dior to suspenseful at Chloe to surreal at Emanuel Ungaro. Not coincidentally, this more cutting-edge approach arrives at a time when many established brands are cultivating a younger customer and taking out more pages in alternative titles like Dutch, Citizen K and Spoon, in addition to the major women’s magazines.
If there’s a persistent theme in terms of content, it’s that old French standby: seduction.
Hot on the heels of his bondage-themed couture collection for fall, John Galliano’s fall images for Dior feature young Brazilian model Raica shot in tight quarters, her bronze, flawless skin a sexy foil for Galliano’s oversized gold jewelry and olive-toned ready-to-wear. “Isn’t she gorgeous?” Galliano asked, surveying the Nick Knight photographs. “It’s that first flush of money, that youth!”
Maete Souquet, Dior’s director of advertising, said the images were meant to be “audacious, but still feminine. We wanted it to have a modern look and to be edgy, but equally to suggest a refined aesthetic.”
Souquet said that Dior’s fall ad budget was boosted by about 30 percent for the season, and almost doubled in the U.S. to increase the business there. While most of the money will go to major fashion magazines, Souquet said she also opted for more offbeat titles like Dutch and Citizen K “because now with John we have a product adapted to their market.”
Keeping it all in the LVMH family, Dior sent its model from last season, Gisele Bundchen, off to Celine and Givenchy, which showed two sides of the model’s personality.
Patrick Demarchelier shot Bundchen in the studio for Celine to “project a very sophisticated, active image” reminiscent of Michael Kors’s Eighties-themed collection. With a budget only slightly up from last year, Celine plans to focus on only traditional fashion titles.
Meanwhile, Bundchen is less recognizable at Givenchy, where photographer David Sims tried to convey her in a new, non-bombshell way.
Givenchy president Marianne Tesler acknowledged it was a job convincing Alexander McQueen, who favors less conventional beauties like Erin O’Connor or Karen Elson, to use Bundchen. But she said the studio images convey the essence of the brand: “French elegance, personality and attitude. When you look at it, you don’t realize that it’s Gisele.” The print-driven campaign consists mostly of double-page spreads, showcasing women’s wear, men’s wear and accessories.
Louis Vuitton opted for a studio shoot because of the Eighties inspiration for Marc Jacobs fall ready-to-wear collection, according to Isabelle Jordan-Ghizzo, director of communications. The campaign, shot by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vindooh Matadin, feature a crop of supermodels, including Kate Moss, Christy Turlington and Stephanie Seymour.
Of course, a few designers headed outdoors.
Karl Lagerfeld photographed Angela Lindvall — whom he’s “mad for” — in various Paris street locations for the Chanel rtw campaign, opting to use color Polaroid film and then have the computer convert them into black and white. “This kind of soft quality you don’t get with black and white,” he said.
After doing a product-focused campaign for spring that was shot backstage at her show, Stella McCartney opted for something much more subtle for fall, using American photographer Taryn Simon, who shot a model from a voyeuristic distance at dusk in funky suburban homes in Paris. “It’s more about a mood and about a feeling than the actual clothes,” she said. “I wanted something that makes you think. It’s quite Hitchcockian.”
McCartney said she was inspired by the Seventies film “Body Double,” about a voyeur who unwittingly witnesses a murder. Knowing her customers are young women, however, she said she told the photographer to make the concept less sinister. “A friendly voyeur,” she pronounced.
Finally, Emanuel Ungaro, which raised eyebrows for spring with ads that featured model Kristen Owen posed in leather bondage with a dog, this season has the same model cavorting with a naked statue.
But Giambattista Valli, Ungaro’s artistic director, insisted the images, inspired by the photos of Man Ray, are not to shock, but to provoke thought and catch attention. “It’s not about bondage,” he said, alluding to the ropes, which recur in many images. “It’s more about a surrealist idea about passion.”
Kenzo, too, is adding alternative titles to its ad buy for fall, including Spoon and Citizen K. Meanwhile, Lanvin’s campaign, shot by Craig McDean, will appear in young titles Numero and Mixte, in addition to the usual suspects.

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