Fall fashion campaigns trot out few winners

Just in case you thought 9/11 might have dampened our lust for goods, stuff, what passes for wanton sexuality, the desire to parade around looking like a half-naked Baltic state streetwalker, whatever, be advised the September Vogue runs 750 pages of mostly advertising featuring a gamut of images that damn near defy description. However, I shall try my best.

Just in case you thought 9/11 might have dampened our lust for goods, stuff, what passes for wanton sexuality, the desire to parade around looking like a half-naked Baltic state streetwalker, whatever, be advised the September Vogue runs 750 pages of mostly advertising featuring a gamut of images that damn near defy description. However, I shall try my best.

The overall standout new look seems to be neo-Addams-family. A lot of the models could have been cabbed over directly from backstage at The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of The Marquis de Sade, if you know what I mean. Borderline depraved. Not quite ready for a day pass. Actually, a lot of the stuff of this ilk is inadvertently hilarious, as in a Count Dracula I vant to suck your blod hilarious.

In Burberry ads, in Dolce & Gabbana, in Ralph Lauren, there are men of the sort you or I would not want to have a glass of Absinthe with, but there they are, unshaven, menacing, practically sucking toothpicks. Go figure.

The other dominant Look-du-Jour is the top-open-to-the-waist, or at least well below the pendulant breasts, or in the case of Stella McCartney, an illo of some babe letting the twins hang out like totally. Bare chests are featured in ads by Agnona, Bill Blass, Botox, Calvin Klein, Courvoisier, Dior, Givenchy, Hugo Boss, J. Mendel, Mac & Jac, Mercedes-Benz, Moschino, Ralph Lauren, Versace, Vertigo and Yves Saint Laurent. In the Moschino ad, one girl is playfully pulling another girl’s top apart to achieve The Look, while another gnaws on her shoe strap. Do the women you know dress like this? The archeologists are going to think so, if they dig up a September 2002 Vogue.

There’s also the trend to wear either nothing under a simple Calvin Klein denim jean jacket, or to wear those industrial quality undergarments in the Gap ad, resembling military, army-issue bras and panties from some recently de-commified eastern European country.

For sheer kinky weirdness, a double-page ad for Marc Jacobs shows a woman in a trenchcoat flashing her rather unattractive undergarments at an infant in a stroller. Nice people.

Look hard enough, and there’s a hint of post 9/11 family value kitsch, evident in a five-page Dolce & Gabbana number where among the array of too-cool-to-be-alive teen models they’ve seeded a pre-school tot and a wispy old granny who’s wearing large shades and expensive-looking boots to just below the knee. Likewise the Arden B. four-pager where they’ve shoehorned in a gray-beard in a three-piece suit and a scarf who’s got to be 40.

Oh, you want a two-parent family? Jeez, we have a Kate Spade New York nine-page spread purporting to chronicle a visit by her parents (gotta be 60 plus?) and two adorable brothers (12 and eight?) to their very 5th Avenue 30-year-old sister Tennessee Lawrence in good old Manhattan. They kibitz. They shop. They dine. They bond.

Another timely six-page effort for Dolce & Gabanna stars a stacked babe in some kind of dusty middle-eastern village setting who’s flaunting everything she’s got, and as a reward is being swarmed by swarthy, scowling Arab-looking guys in black suits. Sort of Betty Boop meets al-Qaeda.

The Gap weights in with 13 pages on heavy paper with their back-to-the-future semi-celebrity campaign now called for every generation. I dunno if it’s going to do it for ‘em, though. Salma Hayek is hot, but Kris Kristofferson is depressingly wrinkled and old and poor old Willie Nelson in the TV spot just looks drained and embarrassed. In fashion, you’re not as old as you feel, you’re as old as you look, and nobody thinks they look that old.

Sexiest ads? Penelope Cruz for Ralph Lauren perfume on the cover gatefold, and the Victoria’s Secret double gate fold. Timeless, classy, yummy shots. They don’t look like they’re even trying, and they’re magnificent.

Barry Base creates advertising campaigns for a living. He creates this column for fun, and to test the unproven theory that clients who find the latter amusing may also find the former to their liking. Barry can be reached at (416) 924-5533, or faxed at (416) 960-5255, at the Toronto office of Barry Base & Partners.