by Leslie Harpold
What's Going On?
I want to start the new year right, I want to feel that maybe in 1999 with the impending millennium, I'm going to finally see some ads that represent people I recognize, even if they're much more attractive and well coiffed than my actual friends. I want someone to depict a scenario so within my grasp that I can't not buy that 300 dollar sweater to enact my fantasy in, or die trying. I want to see a pair of 400 dollar boots so irresistably draped over the end of a sofa that a more successful friend with better abs might own, or maybe a miniskirt sitting jauntily on the hips of someone who has hips, even if they're only the faintest suggestion of curves.
Long ago, I gave up expecting anything resembling reality from fashion ads, but as the models get more inhuman, thinner, more gaunt, more distressed, I can no longer look at the ads and envy the lives as they're shown to me. I'd almost be happy to have that era back, but instead I'm constantly shown really well dressed people who appear to be leading some of the most pitiful existences one could conjure.
First, there was the girl who cut her wrists in the shower in Vogue, then there was the woman who had deep black rings around her eyes lying in an alleyway. Heroin chic is finally taking a needed exit, but what's replacing it is the theater of the absurd, and Cesare Paciotti, a shoe designer is making sure we know that life's order becomes different when you wear these threads.
A man, face-planted in some piece of what must be a modular sofa, has this extremely distracted looking woman sitting on his back while he holds his hands between his legs. I've spent hours trying to figure out what's going on here, and to be honest, I'm more than a little baffled. Even if I look down he sexual defiance alley, where it's possible that this is precisely how he gets his special thrills and she's kindly, but disinterestedly indulging him.
Mind you, it's not that I'm unimaginative. The part of me that doesn't want to explore this any farther is also sure that this is pure effect, the hallmark of fashion advertising. This is how the really beautiful people enjoy a relaxing afternoon at home, for all we average folks know. It's different, and in a highly competitive market, especially if your confidence in the sheer beauty of your (highly over priced) product can't necessarily deliver, that's a cue to make the advertising and branding ever so memorable by any means necessary, even, as we see here, to the point of abstraction.
You know what makes me buy shoes? Really great looking shoes. That's all it takes, I swear. They don't even have to be comfortable, they just have to be black and really fabulous looking. I also know I'm not he target market, that shoes like this are supposed to seem a little out of my reach, but I know people far more fabulous than I and even my most glamorous pals have no idea what the point is here.
Which makes that the point. The mind of no mind, the curiosity you have to stare at until you figure out what's going on, until that name is etched in your brain, even if it requires that you sound it out on first view, especially that it requires sounding out, because then you're remembering it.
It's effective then, but I'm still not happy. Just once, I swear, LaChappelle and Mondino and all those other dilletente photographers could, even in jet grab a scene from a life I've at least seen someone lead and capture it on film. At this point, having forgotten to see what it looks like all dressed up, it couldn't help but be an attention getter.
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