If you are reading along with my Project Runway recaps over on Facebook, you will know that one of the things that I found weird was the advertising. Project Runway is the only thing I watch on “real” TV, and the ads were kind of unsophisticated and disjointed. Does someone really watch an ad on TV and then feel a desire for the thing they saw? The ads are such an obvious attempt at manipulation that if anything, they put me off the products being advertised. While I’m highly susceptible to visual influence (that is, I mirror things I see, sometimes unconsciously) I cannot think of a single thing I’ve bought thanks to advertising. I once read an interview with a jewellery designer in Frankie and then went to Ruby to see her work (as the local stockist) but I still didn’t buy them. Advertising must surely work, or people wouldn’t keep paying $$$$$$$$$$ to have an ad in Vogue, but that’s gotta be about brand profile and awareness in a general sense, rather than the specificity of selling the thing featured.
Even then, luxe advertising a la Vogue has always seemed to me as being less like advertising and more like part of the general attempt of the fashion industry to create a spirit, a look, that we all then adopt to some greater or lesser degree. It was only when one of my male friends exclaimed about the amount of advertising in Vogue that I finally articulated my idea properly – the ads are just paid-for fashion spreads (that are only one image long, which would be kinda lazy were it an actual spread). I’m obviously not going to pony up for a Dolce and Gabbana dress, but I sure as shit will look at the pretty pictures and use them to fire up some enthusiasm for looks out of my own wardrobe.
To that end, I grabbed the September issue of Vogue and deliberately went through and looked only at the ads. It was a strange experience, ripe with dissonance, because usually my first read-through of a magazine is focused entirely on looking for the content that isn’t ads (y’know, I read Vogue for the articles). What I immediately noticed was the advertising from Dolce, which has been some of my favourite in recent years, and then the echo of similar themes in other ads. I boiled it down to:
Florals and flounce
Red, pink and other “romance” colours
Heavy gold and tons of luxe
I have a pair of Trelise Cooper trousers that are very similar to those worn in the Dolce ad as part of the pink suit, but in the absence of a matching jacket, or even one that was matching-enough, I decided to go down the maxi-dress route. Largely because any excuse to wear my beloved vintage Hullabaloo dress is a good enough excuse for me. It fit the bill perfectly with its red, flouncy, floral vibe.
It’s a lot of dress, so it tends to stand alone every time I wear it – I mix it up with different coloured shoes but that’s about it. HOWEVER, Dolce (or Gabbana) whispered in my ear “do some gold accessories” and so, as you can see, I did. I love the revival of insane oversized earrings from the 80s that say “I’m here to chair this board meeting but also to throw a dope cocktail party in the coolest bar that 1985 can offer”, so naturally I went for a pair of those, and then this Paloma Picasso belt/necklace situation that I bought via TradeMe a year or two ago. I would never have naturally gone for shiny gold on top of Maximum Chiffon and such bold colours, since I think it can look a little “much” (and when I’m the one saying that, you know it’s a lot of look). I just had to challenge my inner Italian babe and swish it up.
THAT BEING SAID: ads are so over the top because they’re trying to GRAB YOUR FACE (much like how a TV ad seems loud, because all the sound is scrunched into a 15 second moment). I decided not to wear four massive chain necklaces at once. Regardless, and in a funny way, this little experiment solved a problem I’d been having with this dress – it’s neither fancy nor casual. I think it’s too over the top for a casual barbeque (although, having said that, I do what I want and I will almost certainly bust this out for a casual day in the sun) and yet not dressy enough for a true Christmas party situation (unclear why. Just a vibe I get). However, clearly any dress becomes 400% more Fancy Lady when you slap on a gold chain belt that’s heavier than most newborn babies, so I guess I now know how to give this piece the sassy attitude it needs for party times. Hurrah! One more option for the end of year Christmas party!
To summarise and conclude: I do not understand advertising, and because I don’t watch free to air TV I don’t know who any NZ celebrities are and I’m therefore even more sheltered from the weird idea that someone can sell me something by smiling charmingly to camera. The Swisse ads that play before videos on Youtube are a great example - no idea who the eff that blonde lady is, so she’s not likely to overcome my suspicion of the wellness industry. However, every image has value to me, so even if I’m nowhere near the point where I’d throw down $10,370 for the red organza dress in that Dolce ad, I will certainly take the free level-up to my inspiration and build an outfit from existing items in my wardrobe for a poor man’s version.