It maybe cinematic, but is it poetic? And what happened to show, not tell?
This is trite. Plainly, simply, painfully trite. This isn’t some IG post with inane comments by a KOL who can’t conceal her daftness; this is a Dior autumn/winter 2018 ad with needless, vapid, whatever-for captions. As you see, the above photograph communicates a hyperbolic message: “Women who don’t cry should be outlawed.” What’s with the Billy the Kid language? Sure, we know designer Maria Grazia Chiuri is predisposed to proclamations, not susceptible to subtleties, and the face of feminism in fashion (“we should all be feminist”), but can this ad escape overkill, if not oversell?
We have deliberately chosen this photo without the Dior logo because we know that you may think it is a Gucci ad, and we don’t blame you. That look, those glasses, the Seventies vibe: they have been done before. Gucci fans know it, and we’re sure you do too, Dior. Let’s not go the imitation-as-flattery route. Let’s not track the bring-a-breath-of-fresh-air-to-the-crusty-hallowed-halls-of-the-couture-house (as one follower of SOTD sarcastically offered) path. Let’s not.
This season’s campaign is said to be inspired by the French New Wave cinema of the ’60s, which could mean that it’s conceived for the Netflix generation or fans of Girlboss. IG-style photos with pointless text is, perhaps, to encourage perfunctory approval from those whose idea of communicative flair is influenced by social-media. Cinema as source of inspiration for advertising campaigns is nothing new, but the absence of a true vision in these Dior images is dismal and a huge let down, especially when their ad campaigns were once shot to thrill by Nick Knight.
The thing is, Dior has, to some of us, lost its leadership role as it aims for commercial blah instead of creative high. Throw in the in-your-face social messages and the evangelical effect is one of distaste. There is nothing wrong with raising awareness or kindle empowerment, but mixing the messages with the selling of clothes by a bunch of models who look like they don’t really care is unauthentic and disingenuous.
Gucci autumn/winter 2016 shot by Glen Luchford in Tokyo. Photo: Gucci
Perhaps what’s truly annoying is that the captioning idea, too, has appeared in Gucci ads, specifically for the autumn/winter 2016 season. Lensed by Glen Luchford, the images were shot in Tokyo and came with captions to give them an aural setting. It’s a neat trick as the photos of the bustling city were able to delight the eyes, but not captivate the ears. Moreover, Alessandro Michele has on more than one occasion approached the art direction cinematically. To help the viewer gain more depth into his brand of visual communication descriptively is totally understandable.
Perhaps this is Dior’s cinéma vérité, with its own natural action, its own real dialogue. But, as we often hear people say, “It’s only a movie”, maybe we should just tell ourselves, it’s only a fashion ad.