VERSACE GETS TOP HONORS

Byline: Lisa Lockwood

NEW YORK — Gore and Bush should have it this easy.
In a season that welcomed back ladylike fashion, Versace’s Hollywood glam campaign — photographed by Steven Meisel — won hands down in an informal poll asking advertising executives about their favorite fashion or beauty ad campaigns this fall.
The ads, featuring Amber Valletta and Georgina Grenville, portray ladies who lunch, with blue eye shadow, blond bouffants and furs. The majority of ad executives surveyed said they loved the kitsch factor, the way the product, setting and styling came together, and the super-rich world that was created.
Honorable mentions went to the Michael Kors fragrance ads, created by Fabien Baron and shot by John Akehurst, for their sexiness, simplicity and graphics; the Dior ads featuring Brazilian model Raica, photographed by Nick Knight, for their provocative nature, international resonance and “in your face” quality; and Kate Spade’s spirited and lively vignettes of handbags being thrown out of windows or pinned to a tree, shot by Tim Walker under the creative direction of Andy Spade.
Here’s what the ad execs had to say about their favorite fall campaigns, excluding their own.

Simon Doonan, creative director, Barneys, New York.
“I have to say I’ve been enormously entertained by the Versace campaign. I think they always do something good. This one is particularly compelling. I find myself wondering about this bizarre, hyper-rich party elegance, Palm Beach world and who these people are. There’s a real narrative in it. It’s a brand that really understands what’s intriguing and fun about it. There’s something slightly macabre about it. The photography is beautiful. It’s the pastiche of the Sixties, done with a lot of verve and beautifully styled.”

George Fertitta, president, Margeotes, Fertitta & Partners.
“I may be dating myself, but I really loved the Versace work. Just to see those hairstyles and the expression on the models’ faces. It’s a lovely wink to the past. It’s so easily cool. It has real stopping power. Stylishly, it’s so different from everything being done.
“I also think the Kate Spade ads work. They capture the work of Kate Spade. They’re alive, happy and spirited.”

Richard Kirshenbaum, partner and creative director, Kirshenbaum, Bond & Partners.
“In the fashion category, the one I feel has a wonderful aesthetic is the Versace campaign. The product, setting and the style seem to be completely harmonious and work together in a really fluid way. What’s wonderful about it is it’s clearly the Versace world. It may not be your world, but it’s something you might want to take a peek at.”

Mike Toth, president and chief executive officer, Toth Brand Imaging.
“The best campaign out there right now is Versace with Amber Valletta. That Seventies stuff is really beautifully done. I also like Calvin Klein’s new women’s campaign for Truth.”

Peter Arnell, chairman, AG Worldwide.
“I liked Versace and the glamour thing of Palm Beach. It’s kitsch and it’s extremely entertaining. I also greatly appreciate the cinematic quality of the Donna Karan Collection campaign [shot in Paris with Milla Jovovich and Gary Oldman], which is extraordinarily seductive and carries all the correct mystique of the company.”

Jeff McKay, owner of an ad agency bearing his name.
“I loved the Versace campaign. It’s hysterical, and it’s exactly sleazy enough. It’s completely appropriate for the collection, for once. I love the Valentino stuff, too.It’s shot in a great Pierre Koenig house in Los Angeles. All the women are done to death with finished hair and dresses, and the men are in bathing suits and towels. I think Kate Spade is completely charming. It’s sweet and endearing and a completely positive campaign.”

Fabien Baron, owner, Baron & Baron ad agency.
“I liked very much the Helmut Lang perfume ad. It’s just a big splash. It was totally different for a perfume ad, and quite original and quite impactful. In fashion, I thought the best was Dior, the two images of the woman, because it’s very much in your face and provocative. They’re really close up and the product is showcased in that ad. For them, at this moment, it’s a smart move. The brand is getting an international resonance — before, it was typically French.”

Donny Deutsch, president and chief executive officer, Deutsch, Inc.
“I loved the Nordstrom TV ads. It’s really fresh stuff, with the tagline, ‘Re-Invent Yourself.’ It’s still very upmarket and relevant. For print, I like Burberry. They’ve done a super job of contemporizing the brand and their heritage and making it fun. They made the brand incredibly hip, while staying true to their roots.”

Neil Kraft, president and chief executive officer, Kraftworks.
“I really love the Michael/Michael Kors fragrance ads. They’re sexy, really modern and elegant. The other two campaigns I like are Dior and Fendi. I think [this Dior campaign] is the first time since ‘The Diors’ that I noticed the ads. Fendi seemed to be a little bit different. I liked the way they used the space, the energy and the vitality.”

Doug Lloyd, owner, Lloyd & Co.
“Probably Kors and Vuitton stood out for their simplistic, graphic nature.”

Charles DeCaro, partner, Laspata/DeCaro.
“Prada. I think primarily because it appeared different from anyone else. It captured a Forties feeling, almost like Fellini’s ‘Amarcord.’ There was a narrative and it perfectly reflected the essence of the current collection.”

Ellis Verdi, president, DeVito/Verdi.
“My favorite is the Original Mane ‘n Tail [shampoo, conditioner, hand, nail and body cream]. It stood out, and it’s unlike everything else. The model is not that overly attractive, and it looks like one of the cheap ads they put together. But, they put a real horse next to her and you get a real sense of the products, and it has a real standard of excellence. There’s a little bit of an idea here. Everything else is so contrived and looks alike. They’re all a bunch of pretty people staring out in different directions. This has a reverse chic.”

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