A New Aspiration

Post by CM

Fashion advertisements are different from others in that most of the time they feature beautiful people from the silver screen or the runway looking 100 times more beautiful than humanly possible, or by throwing an eye-catching curve-ball at you with their creative chutzpa. For all the overly air-brushed beauty campaigns, making us all feel bad about our tea-saucer pores and stumpy eyelashes, there are those that celebrate difference and diversity, and thanks to some open minded, forward thinking ad execs (anyone else picturing a sensitive, feminist version of Don Draper right now? If not, take a moment to do so…) the new face of fashion has gone in a decidedly unexpected and surprising, yet wholly welcome direction.

The most recent beauty campaign to stir up negative controversy involved Diane Keaton for L’Oreal, in a spot aired after her weird acceptance speech for her distant ex Woody Allen at the Golden Globes. In it she was criticised for looking unnaturally smooth, like an alien being from Doctor Who, in direct comparison to her real face shown live just moments before, in which she looked lumnious and beautiful but – shock! horror! – (nearly) all of her 68 years.

But the new Kate Moss for Alexander McQueen campaign has gotten everyone talking thanks to it’s eerie, urban ethereal feel, with Mossy as a Tilda Swinton-esque character cosying up to a voodoo doll of herself. It’s weird. But it’s beautiful. It in no way emulates the kind of beauty we’re used to seeing but there’s no doubt that it’s a powerful  and effective campaign.

Kate Moss starring in McQueen's new ad campaign
Kate Moss starring in McQueen’s new ad campaign

Making waves of another kind is the “We are Connected” Diesel Reboot ad which features fashion blogger Jillian Mercado. While at first glance it seems like it’s the same old, same old – edgy, cool hipsters in head to toe denim – but looking further you suddenly notice that the extraordinarily pretty model to the right is in a wheelchair. Mercado suffers from the condition muscular atrophy, but that hasn’t stopped her honing a career in fashion and being chosen to represent this brand. And well she does it too, it’s true that her face has definitely not been a drawback, but it’s progressive to see models with disabilities showcasing fashion with all the ability of an able bodied person.

Jillian Mercado in the Diesel Campaign
Jillian Mercado in the Diesel Campaign

New Zealand sunglasses designer Karen Walker has collaborated with the UN on a pioneering endeavour, in which craftspeople from a small African village have helped to design and create pouches, which will come free with every sunglasses purchase. Members of the community also model the sunglasses, and like Les Sapeurs of the Congo, they bring an enormous amount of presence to the pictures, modelling them in their own unique ways and doing it with aplomb. It’s an interesting partnership and another effective campaign. I know I’m lusting after the pair third from the left, top row!

Karen Walker's UN Sunglasses Campaign
Karen Walker’s UN Sunglasses Campaign

Of course commercials for make-up and skincare products strive to show the product in their best light (pun absolutely intended), but advertising standards are beginning to insist on disclaimers broadcasting the use of the likes of false eye-lashes to boost mascara sales and campaigners are pushing the use of notices to indicate heavy photoshopping. Fashion, particularly haute couture, has always been a slightly different beast, and while yes, it still uses the thinnest of thin models on the runway they are often not your typically beautiful specimen of model, and what these latest campaigns show, there is clearly a movement towards magnifying the interesting people and places that may have gone unnoticed before.


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