1 March 2012

A Subtle Hand

Ad Campaign
Spring/Summer 1996
Photographer: Craig McDean
Model: Guinevere Van Seenus

Has your opinion of the industry changed much in the time you’ve been working in it?

I think lately it’s really, uh… [Pause] I’m disappointed.  I feel there’s even more money involved now, and that seems to have created this unnecessary and tiresome environment.  I just think everything is really safe and sterile at the moment.  Certain publications I don’t want to name have used this supposed crisis as a reason to not rock the boat.  But I really think that there is a need for exciting and inspiring work right now.  Because what we’re peddling is not a necessity – you can make do without the eighth handbag.  So unless you really excite a person to part with their money – and at this time it’s even harder to do that unless you really excite them – then they’re just not going to.  It’s not a case of tricking them into doing that – it’s a case of creating something they really will cherish.  If you’re playing it safe and you’re just putting campaigns out there that look like catalogues, then it’s not going to work.  Everything looks like, “OK, here’s everything we make.”  Remember the old Jil Sander campaigns with Guinevere with half her face cut off and no product?  I was just starting to look at magazines then, and those are the first campaigns I can remember seeing; they created a feeling of mystery and excitement around the brand.  Now there seems to be more emphasis on making sure you can see every stitch of the jacket and the shoes.  I think it’s naive and short-sighted.  But that might just be my opinion.  I don’t know.
Panos Yiapanis, An Interview, Industrie
(first published Industrie, Issue 1)

Advertising is to my eyes a necessary evil - I dislike having products shoved in my face, but at the same time brand awareness needs to spread beyond word-of-mouth alone.  I could not care less about what celebrity is featured on this or that campaign, or which famous supermodel is signed up for the season, because it is ultimately about the images.  It should be able to work as a concept and as individual images, regardless of who or what is featured therein.  I consider a fashion ad campaign successful if it is one that I would buy a print of for my own enjoyment.  What immediately comes to mind is actually Yohji Yamamoto's catalogues shot by Nick Knight.  I am reluctant to admit that many campaigns these days leave me feeling bored, so it feels all the more special when I find ones I really do enjoy.  I like a sense of mystery, a sense of intrigue, something that draws you in but does not reveal too much, rather it merely encourages you to find out more.  That is what interesting advertising is to me, something that directs your attention in a certain direction, but leaves you to follow at your own leisure.  My usual favourites?  Yohji Yamamoto (especially the Y's ads) and Comme des Garçons - I would happily buy a catalogue of all their advertising campaigns.

Ad Campaign
Fall/Winter 2006
Photographer: Willy Vanderperre
Model: Tayla Collins

Who Is Tha Man? - RZA



  1. Wonderful photographs. Can't stop staring at it.

  2. I loved this post. Thank for you always finding the thought in the thoughtless.

  3. YAY! Jil Sander is one of the best in minimalism style. Cool photos!

  4. The bigger the name of the brand, the more mystery they can put behind it. Gucci, Prada, Chanel, Louis Vuitton for example can get away with more stylized “mood” images and use the elusive “price available upon request” tag.* Because people know those names, and those that want it, already know where to find them and what it costs. But say a smaller independent designer should provide the consumer with more information in how to acquire their merchandise.

    * Or maybe this was the case of fashion several years ago, since more big names allow you to purchase directly from their website—instead of through 3rd party stockists.

  5. Such classics! Loved the interview part too. So much to learn in this post.

  6. You really know how to make fashion art. I forget that sometimes. Especially, when it comes to everyday wares.

  7. So lovely. However, I suppose I'm a thrifty minimalist. Or so I like to think.

  8. Make coffee with my favorite cup is my ritual when I see new post of your blog.Jil Sander's ads you posted are beautiful. Those are art. And I think powerful enough to attract people .

  9. Love Jil Sanders, a post to be read with a cup of tea and great interest, thank you!

  10. That's quite true, advertisements are a necessary evil. There are the occasional ones that are really lovely. Where do you think lookbooks fall? I find many of those quite gorgeous, but they don't really try to translate the designer's vision into a sale so much as just convey that vision in a lifestyle (for more editorial ones) or merely show the clothes in their entirety...